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  • Writer's pictureLa petite Sirène

New Zealand: Puberty blockers under review by Ministry of Health

June 29, 2023 trans. google

A review of the 'safety and reversibility' of puberty-blocking drugs is due to be published by the Department of Health in the coming months.The drugs are prescribed to children and teens facing transgender issues, with proponents claiming they can put development on hold while gender options are explored.The ministry told Newshub that it is "currently reviewing whether puberty blockers can be considered safe and fully reversible."The “evidence file” is expected within the next 2-3 months.

The review comes as several countries err on the side of caution with puberty blockers, with the UK this month discontinuing use of the drugs in most circumstances.Before September last year, the Department of Health said: 'Puberty blockers are a safe and fully reversible drug which can be used from onset of puberty through late adolescence to help relieve distress and allow time to fully explore gender health options. »But in September, the ministry updated it, removing the part that says "safe and fully reversible."Now the Department of Health has issued a new statement to Newshub for Paddy Gower Has Issues which read, "The Department of Health has no formal guidelines on puberty blockers" and noted that all "medical treatment involves a balance between benefits and risks”.“Because individual circumstances vary widely, decisions regarding the use of puberty blockers are best made by patients and their families in consultation with appropriate healthcare professionals,” the ministry said.The ministry said it wanted to "ensure that any information we publish about the safety and reversibility of puberty blockers is supported by the latest clinical evidence."The use of puberty blocking drugs has really increased over the last 10 years. There were 137 patients in 2012, and it has increased every year since, reaching 771 last year.Auckland pediatrician Dr Rachel Johnson, a member of PATHA (Professional Association of Transgender Health Aotearoa), said: 'Puberty blockers are a drug used to put puberty on hold, they can't go back, they therefore cannot reverse changes that have already occurred, but they can absolutely pause things. So imagine if physical changes that cause stress occur, stopping them can be incredibly beneficial on a psychological and physical level. But if you were to stop these puberty blockers, puberty would start again. »"After more than ten years of tracking people who are on blockers, with the global evidence available, I think access to puberty blockers in the context of how young people can do it in New Zealand is really appropriate,” Dr. Johnson said.“It is not a universal treatment for all young trans people, it is always a carefully considered decision. If the benefits outweigh the potential risks.When asked if they were safe and fully reversible, Dr Johnson replied: “I would absolutely say that in the years of experience of using blockers and the global evidence, they are safe and reversible. »But abroad, there is no consensus on the evidence.Earlier this month, the UK stopped virtually all doctors from prescribing puberty blockers. Now children can only access it if they are part of clinical research.The National Health Service England decision came after a high-profile court case against the Tavistock Center Gender Clinic by a 24-year-old woman who was given puberty blockers as a teenager but later regretted her transition.There was also a major independent review by respected pediatrician Hilary Cass which found "evidence gaps" around the drugs.Dr Dylan Wilson, an Australian pediatrician who is concerned about puberty blockers, said: “There is nothing that exists here in Australia or New Zealand to demonstrate more benefit than overseas. So the fact that the UK is now saying it can only be done through research demonstrates that. This research has yet to take place.“Rather than allowing them to explore. The opposite is happening. It sets them down a path that they're having a really hard time getting out of because they don't have the ability to actually say it's bad for me," he said.Asked if that didn't give the kids enough credit for knowing each other really well, Dr Wilson said: 'I still don't believe that a precocious, articulate, extremely intelligent and absolutely convinced child that he is what he claims to be. I still don't feel like a kid at 12, 13, 14, even up to 16 [understands] the implications of who they are. »Newshub spoke to Dr Wilson because like-minded New Zealand doctors were afraid to speak out.Dr Wilson said: “My main concerns from New Zealand are the lack of ability to voice those concerns and silence them and see them as transphobic as a result. The lack of ability to discuss this as a medical issue is extremely concerning. »Full statement from the Department of Health on puberty blockers“The Department of Health has no official guidelines on puberty blockers.“Because individual circumstances vary widely, decisions regarding the use of puberty blockers are best made by patients and their families in consultation with appropriate healthcare professionals. It is important to note that any medical treatment involves a balance of benefits and risks that must be considered in context by the individual in partnership with their healthcare professional.“The evidentiary record, which examines whether puberty blockers can be considered safe and fully reversible, is currently under review. We expect the results to be ready for publication within the next 2-3 months.“The evidence summary has been undertaken to ensure that any information we publish on the safety and reversibility of puberty blockers is supported by the latest clinical evidence. »

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