First Experiment to Attempt Prevention of Homosexuality in Womb
Leftist rage predicted
"This is the first we know in the history of medicine that clinicians are actively trying to prevent homosexuality," says Alice Dreger, professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Dreger and collaborator Ellen Feder, associate professor and acting chair of philosophy and religion at American University, have brought to national attention the first systematic approach to prenatally preventing homosexuality and bisexuality. The "treatment" is targeted at one particular population of girls, but the researchers involved in the work say their findings may have implications beyond this population.
The girls and women in question have congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a serious endocrine disruption that sometimes results in ambiguous genitalia. Their endocrine problem will require medical management from birth onward. Research has shown that females born with CAH have increased rates of tomboyism and lesbianism.
The prenatal treatment at issue, however, does not treat or prevent the CAH. Most clinicians who use prenatal dexamethasone for CAH seek to prevent the development of ambiguous genitalia. But the New York-based group of clinical researchers whose work is traced by Dreger and Feder suggest that prenatal dexamethasone can also be used in this population to prevent the "abnormality" of homosexuality, as well as the "abnormal" interest these girls tend to have in traditionally masculine careers and hobbies.
Dreger and Feder's paper on the topic appears in the Bioethics Forum of the Hastings Center and can be read here .
A new consensus from seven major medical organizations (including the American Academy of Pediatrics) will be published in August indicating that this use of prenatal dexamethasone is experimental and not to be treated as standard of care. This comes in the wake of Dreger and Feder leading an investigation showing that the chief proponent of this off-label use, pediatric endocrinologist Maria New, treated hundreds of women with this experimental drug without proper research ethics oversight.
The FDA and the Office of Human Research Protections are now investigating these formal complaints.
Fit, active and clearly not FAT: So why was British boy, 11, sent devastating letter by NHS telling him to lose weight?
He enjoys an active lifestyle and eats plenty of fruit and vegetables. Tom Halton also appears to have little fat on him. Yet the 11-year-old has been branded 'overweight' by NHS officials.
They wrote to his parents and warned them that at 7st 10lb, Tom was outside the 'healthy range' for children of his age. His mother Tracey said: 'He felt like he had been kicked in the stomach'
They said that if he doesn't change his lifestyle he was at higher risk of cancer, type-two diabetes and heart disease. The recommended weight for Tom's age is between 5st 5lb and 7st 7lb. But at 5ft 1in he is taller than average for an 11-year-old and is clearly not fat.
The letter has so upset Tom, who lives in Barnsley, he has started refusing to eat.
Last night his mother Tracey, 42, a paediatric nurse, accused the NHS of damaging his self-esteem. She said: 'Tom asked, "What's wrong with me?". He said he felt like he had been kicked in the stomach. 'He wouldn't eat his tea and was worried about it when he went to bed. There isn't an inch of fat on him.'
The letter from NHS Barnsley was sent out after Tom was weighed and measured at school for a national health programme. It read: 'If we carry on as we are, nine out of ten children today could grow up with dangerous amounts of fat in their bodies. 'This can cause diseases like cancer , type-two diabetes and heart disease.'
Doctors classify patients' weight using a body mass index that is based on a mathematical formula relating height to weight. In children younger than 16, they use special charts that also take age into account. The Government's National Child Measurement Programme is part of a wide-ranging campaign to combat child obesity.
But Tom's father, Dan Halton, 46, a school governor and youth tutor, calls the letters 'unhelpful and laughable' and has demanded they should stop. 'He is always riding on his bike and he has his own trials motor bike,' he said. 'That is a sport in itself and you have to be fit and strong to handle those motor bikes.'
Tom also enjoys playing football with his friends, Mr Halton said. He added: 'The impression it gives is that your child is fat, it's your fault and they will die from a horrible disease. You can't use tinpot psychology like this on kids or their parents.'
Emma Healey, from the eating disorder charity BEAT, said: 'We should be promoting messages about healthy diet and healthy body size but we must do this sensitively and responsibly. 'A "one size fits all" approach just isn't appropriate.'
Sharon Stoltz, assistant director for public health in Barnsley, said the local NHS were following a Government initiative.