A transgender woman has become the first in the world to breastfeed her baby without the help of gender reassignment surgery. The 30-year-old approached doctors at Mt Sinai's Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York to find a way to induce lactation.
At the time, she explained that her partner was pregnant but did not want to breastfeed. The unidentified woman "hoped to take on the role of being the primary food source for her infant", the case study, which was published in Transgender Health, explained.
Dr Tamar Reisman and nurse practitioner Zil Goldstein prepared a pre-delivery regime, which included hormone replacement therapy, the drug for which she obtained from Canada. She was also required to use a breast pump for five minutes on each breast, three times per day.
By the end of the first month, she was able to express droplets of milk and her dosage of hormonal drugs was increased.
After three months of therapy, the patient was able to produce eight ounces (236ml) of milk in time for the birth of the baby. She exclusively nursed the infant for six weeks and continued breastfeeding alongside other food sources for another six months.
"We believe that this is the first formal report in the medical literature of induced lactation in a transgender woman," Reisman and Goldstein noted in their medical paper.
The team noted that the woman had not undergone any gender reassignment surgeries such as breast augmentation or vaginoplasty which would have triggered hormonal changes.
Throughout this process, the patient used domperidone that was obtained from Canada, where it is commonly used off-label as a galactogogue (food or drug that increases milk production). "Domperidone is not currently available in the United States for gastrointestinal use due to the FDA's concern about its association with cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, and sudden death when used intravenously. The FDA has warned against domperidone's off-label use as a galactogogue due to its unknown risks on breastfeeding infants," the case study notes.
Future tests will be required to identify if the hormone treatment or the ancillary drugs will have any lasting effect on the woman or the baby but for now, the medical professionals are excited by the opportunities this treatment could provide in the future.
"We are happy that the patient shared her experience with us, and we are happy to help our patients build happy, healthy, transgender families," Reisman told Daily Mail.