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Youths given puberty delay drugs.

CHILDREN with a condition that leaves them thinking they were born the wrong sex are being given injections to delay puberty, it emerged yesterday.

The jabs, which contain drugs called hypothalamic blockers, suppress sex hormones - delaying the start of puberty.

They are being given to children who suffer from Gender Identity Disorder (GID), believing they have been born the wrong sex.

Some may go on to swap gender, while others might change their mind, and giving them the drugs is hoped to give them "space" to make the decision, experts said.

The injections are being given as part of treatment by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London - which treats children and adolescents from across the country.

It uses a range of treatment methods, including counselling, psychotherapy and other forms of therapy.

Dr Polly Carmichael, director of Tavistock's Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), said the blocker is presumed to be reversible and "pauses" puberty - if stopped puberty then resumes.

She said the Tavistock Centre works with endocrinology colleagues at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) where they hold a regular clinic where, after physical investigations, the blocker is prescribed.

She said referrals to the endocrinology liaison clinic come after assessment at the Tavistock by the mental health GIDS team.

"The blocker reduces the distress associated with pubertal development but is not seen as a first step to physical sex re-assignment, rather it provides an opportunity for further exploration of the young persons feelings," she said.

"Ongoing contact with the therapeutic team at the GIDS is important and part of the research protocol."

Dr Carmichael said the treatment provides a "space for ongoing therapeutic exploration".

"If the gender dysphoria persists some young people may decide to move on to taking cross sex hormones.

"A positive benefit of earlier intervention for this group is that the development of irreversible physical secondary sex characteristics in the unwanted gender will have been halted - which makes transitioning easier and should improve long term outcomes in terms of the body matching the gender identity."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 23, 2012
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