To some doctors and researchers, there is nothing that can’t be “fixed” with pharmaceuticals. One pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Maria New of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and her psychologist friend Heino F.L. Meyer-Bahlburg of Columbia University think that in some cases, an experimental drug can be used to “prevent” lesbianism and “masculine behavior” in unborn girls.
Dexamethasone is a drug originally made as an anti-inflammatory steroid for various uses from rheumatoid arthritis to dental surgery after-treatment. It’s latest “off-label” use (meaning non-FDA approved use) is as a preventive treatment for expectant mothers when one or both parents have a genetic defect known to cause congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH).1 It’s that last use that brought it to the attention of Dr. New, who specializes in CAH at Mt. Sinai. The fact that no long-term studies of the effects of the drug on babies have been completed hasn’t dissuaded New from speculating on the sociological uses of dexamethasone.
In a paper published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in April of this year, Dr. New and research partner Dr. Saroj Nimkarn write: “Gender-related behaviors, namely childhood play, peer association, career and leisure time preferences in adolescence and adulthood, maternalism, aggression, and sexual orientation become masculinized in 46,XX girls and women with 210HD deficiency.” 210HD is CAH. “We anticipate that the prenatal dexamethasone therapy will reduce the well-documented behavioral masculinization..”2
Countering Dr. New’s assertions is Professor Alice Dreger of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “The specific drug we’re talking about,” she writes, “dexamethasone, is not a benign drug for pregnant women, nor for the children exposed in utero. The studies we do have on the early prenatal use of ‘dex’ are worrisome. The number of women and children missing from the follow-up studies of this drug use is more worrisome still.”3
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Dr. Meyer-Bahlburg has been working diligently to prove a link between CAH and lesbianism. Reviewing reports and presenting the findings of a small-scale study using the Sexual Behavior Assessment Schedule (SEBAS-A). Meyer-Bahlburg concludes that this supports the theory that CAH women are more likely to be homosexual, despite it being only “modestly” correlated with results.4, 5
Although the issue of homosexuality is a touchy one for many Americans, the fact of the matter is that using a dangerous, untested, and powerful drug like dexamethasone to “cure” something when we have little information or data that there is even a “problem” to be cured, is more than a just careless. Whatever your stance on homosexuality, you must agree that putting unborn babies in danger of unknown long-term effects and putting their mothers through the known (and dangerous) side-effects of this drug is beyond idiocy.
1 – Dexamethasone, Wikipedia
2 – Congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency by Drs. Saroj Nimkarn and Maria I. New, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, April 5, 2010.
3 – To Have Is To Hold by Alice Dreger, Psychology Today, June 29, 2010.
4 – Sexual orientation in women with classical or non-classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia as a function of degree of prenatal androgen excess. by Meyer-Bahlburg HF, et al, PubMed.gov, February 2008.
5 – What Causes Low Rates of Child-Bearing in Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia? Commentary by H.F.L. Meyer-Bahlburg, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, v84 #6, 1999.