A 30-year old transgender woman has become the first in the world to breastfeed her baby. This case is a breakthrough for transgender health care.
A case study published in the journal Transgender Health reveals that a transgender woman was able express breastmilk and breastfeed her adopted baby after undergoing an experimental regimen at the Mount Sinai's Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York.
A treatment that combined intake of hormones, chest stimulation, and a drug used to treat nausea has successfully spurred lactation in a transgender woman.
The transgender woman approached the clinic five months before her partner was due to deliver their baby.
The woman, then an expecting parent, told the doctors that her partner is not interested in breastfeeding and that she would assume the role of providing the primary food source for her baby.
The medical regimen was administered by Dr. Tamar Reisman and nurse practitioner Zil Goldstein at the Mount Sinai clinic. The treatment has enabled the woman to grow full breasts and induce lactation without surgery or breast augmentation procedure.
The woman, who have had previous history of taking feminizing hormones, took gradual doses of hormonal medication such as estradiol, progesterone, and spironolactone throughout the treatment.
Spironolactone blocks the production of testosterone, while estradiol, a type of estrogen, boosts the feminine hormones.
Doctors also administered domperidone, an anti-nausea drug that is known to induce breast milk.
The woman obtained the said drug from Canada because the Food and Drugs Administration advises against the use of the domperidone, which is linked to cardiac arrests when used intravenously.
The woman also used a breast pump up to six times daily to induce lactation.
"There have been self-reported cases online of transgender woman trying DIY regiments to induce breastfeeding, but this is the first case of induced functional lactation in the academic literature," Reisman said.
Within a month of following the treatment, the woman was able to express droplets of milk.
Three months after starting the regimen or two weeks before the baby's delivery, the woman was already producing 8 ounces or 236 ml of breast milk each day.
According to the study, the woman breastfed her baby exclusively for six weeks. During that time, the baby's pediatrician reported that the baby's growth, feeding, and bowel habits were developmentally appropriate.
Joshua Safer, an endocrinologist at the Boston Medical Center, who was not involved with the treatment, described the outcome of the lactation treatment as "a very big deal," as it could benefit other transgender women.
"Many transgender women are looking to have as many of the experiences of non-transgender women as they can, so I can see this will be extremely popular," Safer said.
If proven safe, the treatment could also benefit women who want to adopt and breastfeed babies as well as women who experience difficulties in breastfeeding.