The Impact of Puberty Blockers on Children’s Mental Health: New Analysis Raises Questions

The Impact of Puberty Blockers on Children’s Mental Health: New Analysis Raises Questions

According to a re-analysis of a landmark study on puberty blockers, the majority of children experienced changes in their mental health while taking the controversial drugs. The original study, which involved 44 children taking puberty blockers for a year or more, found no significant impact on mental health. However, the new analysis suggests that 34% of the children saw their mental health deteriorate, while 29% experienced improvements.

The re-analysis of the data raises questions about the potential mental health impact of puberty blockers on children under the age of 16. It also sheds light on an area of children’s medicine that is highly debated and not well understood. The new study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but the authors felt it was important to make the information publicly available.

The original study was conducted by the Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Service and University College London Hospitals. It enrolled 44 children between the ages of 12 and 15 and examined the impact of puberty blockers on their mental health. The study’s findings contradicted earlier research from Dutch researchers who reported positive effects on mental health and well-being.

The original study used questionnaires completed by both parents and children to assess behavioral and emotional problems. The overall conclusion of “no change” was based on the group average of these scores. However, the re-analysis considered the individual trajectories of each participant and found that 34% had deteriorating mental health, 29% improved, and 37% showed no change according to their self-reported answers.

It is important to note that the study had limitations. It was a small study with only 44 participants, and it lacked a control group. Therefore, causation cannot be inferred, and the reasons for the varying experiences of the children cannot be determined. However, the new analysis emphasizes the need for further research on puberty blockers and their impact on children’s mental health.

The National Health Service (NHS) in England recently announced that puberty blockers will only be available to young people participating in clinical trials. This decision was influenced by the “gaps in evidence” highlighted in a report on children’s gender services. Similar reviews conducted in Sweden and Finland have also raised concerns about the quality of evidence for the use of puberty blockers in this context.

Both the Tavistock and Portman Trust and University College London Hospitals support the need for additional research and contributions to the evidence base to inform decisions about the treatment of young people with gender incongruence. The Cass Review Team, which conducted the report on children’s gender services, has commissioned an updated systematic review of academic publications on puberty blockers to inform its final recommendations.

– BBC Newsnight (source article)

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