Monday, April 2, 2018

Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy Poses No Significant Health Risks in Youth, Study Finds

Many transgender youth undergo hormonal therapy so their physical gender more closely aligns with their gender identity. However, little is known about the safety and impact of gender-affirming hormones in youth, and some caregivers are cautious about using hormone therapy in transgender adolescents.

A study in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health reports that hormonal therapy significantly alters many lab values in transgender youth, such as levels of potassium and hemoglobin. However, during the roughly two-year period of this study, almost none of these changes led to any clinical safety concerns.

“To our knowledge, this is the first prospective study examining the physiologic changes that occur among minors and young adults undergoing treatment with gender-affirming hormones, for the purpose of … gender transition,” wrote Johanna Olson-Kennedy, M.D., of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and colleagues. 

Olson-Kennedy and colleagues enrolled 101 youth aged 12 to 23 who were planning to undergo gender transition at Children’s Hospital’s Center for Transyouth Health and Development and followed them for 21 to 31 months. At the end of the follow-up period, data were available for analysis on 59 participants (25 transfeminine and 34 transmasculine).

The transfeminine youth showed statistically significant changes in the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), aspartate aminotransferase, potassium, prolactin, and hemoglobin at follow-up. Transmasculine youth experienced statistically significant changes in blood pressure, HDL, triglycerides, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, potassium, and hemoglobin levels. None of these changes required any clinical intervention, with the exception of blood pressure elevation in some of the transmasculine youth that warranted hypertensive drugs.

“As the demand for care continues to exponentially increase across the United States, much more data are needed about the impact of hormonal therapy on both physical and mental health in transgender adolescents,” the authors concluded.

To read more on this topic, see the Psychiatric News article “Resident Helps Young People in Gender Transition Find Their Way.



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