The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is apparently providing guidance on its website for transgender and non-binary individuals on how to "chestfeed" their newborns.
In several sections, the health institute contains information on how to feed infants for biological men taking hormones to grow breasts or biological women who have had much of their breasts surgically removed in gender-transition surgeries.
Several doctors told the Daily Mail, however, that the CDC is blurring the lines between "politics and science" in failing to disclose the lack of research and potential risks to the health of the baby.
In the CDC website's section on "Health Equity Considerations" — found under the "Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies Toolkit," which is located under "Nutrition" — the centers stated that "Transgender and nonbinary-gendered individuals may give birth and breastfeed or feed at the chest (chestfeed)."
The health agency also stated that "The gender identity or expression of transgender individuals is different from their sex at birth," and that, "the gender identity of nonbinary-gendered individuals does not fit neatly into either man or woman."
In a section on breastfeeding for those who have undergone breast surgery, the CDC asked the question "Can transgender parents who have had breast surgery breastfeed or chestfeed their infants?" It answered, "yes," and then explained why.
"Some transgender parents who have had breast/top surgery may wish to breastfeed, or chestfeed (a term used by some transgender and non-binary parents), their infants" the CDC website states. "Healthcare providers working with these families should be familiar with medical, emotional, and social aspects of gender transitions to provide optimal family-centered care and meet the nutritional needs of the infant."
According to the post, there are several things these transgender and non-binary parents "may need help with," including "maximizing milk production, supplementing with pasteurized donor human milk or formula, medication to induce lactation or avoiding medications that inhibit lactation, suppressing lactation (for those choosing not to breastfeed or chestfeed)" and "finding appropriate lactation management support, peer support, and/or emotional support."
The Mail reported that biological men can produce their own breastmilk by taking "hormone drugs" that mimic the changes a biological woman's body undergoes during the late stages of pregnancy.
The Food and Drug Administration has warned against one of the drugs — domperidone — because it can pass into breast milk in small amounts and can sometimes cause an irregular heartbeat in babies.
The outlet spoke with several doctors who were critical of the CDC for promoting chestfeeding while failing to mention the potential risks to infants.
Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, told the Mail that "we have no idea what the long-term effects on the child will be" if a breastfeeding trans woman uses "all kinds of off-label hormones."
"A lot of people are pushing for off-label use of a drug ... it's become so politicized that you can do all kinds of things for a politically approved purpose," she said. "The CDC has a responsibility to talk about the health risks, but they have been derelict in doing that."
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