Something’s not right.
A paper in the journal Transgender Health reports that a man injected with a myriad of chemicals was able to temporarily breastfeed a baby.
The press is not surprisingly reporting the event uncritically. For instance, The Guardian calls the event a “breakthrough”.
There are reasons to doubt the study, however, as we shall see.
Here are the salient details. A thirty-year-old man desirous of breastfeeding presented at the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery.
The man was at that time was in a “feminizing hormone regimen”, taking spironolactone, estradiol, and micronized progesterone. He was also taking occasional clonazepam for a “panic disorder”
and zolpidem for insomnia.
Presumably because of the long use of hormones, and without augmentation surgery, the man’s breasts appeared well developed.
To induce lactation, the researchers:
(1) increased estradiol and progesterone dosing to mimic high levels seen during pregnancy, (2) use of a galactogogue [a lactation-inducing drug] to increase prolactin levels, (3) use of a breast pump with the speculation that it would increase prolactin and oxytocin levels, and (4) subsequent reduction in estradiol and progesterone levels, with the intention of mimicking delivery.
Potentially Dangerous Drugs
The galactogogue was domperidone, which is now banned in the United States. The FDA said:
The serious risks associated with domperidone include cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, and sudden death. These risks are related to the blood level of domperidone, and higher levels in the blood are associated with higher risks of these events. Concurrent use of certain commonly used drugs, such as erythromycin, could raise blood levels of domperidone and further increase the risk of serious adverse cardiac outcomes.
Domperidone is used on-label as a digestive aid. A listed side effect is “swelling of the breasts or discharge from the nipple in men or women.”
The man was able to secure domperidone from Canada.
How Much Milk?
After one month of treatment, the man “was able to express droplets of milk”. His drug dosages were increased, and after three months of treatment “the patient was making 8 oz [one cup] of breast milk per day.”
The baby in question finally arrived weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces.
Here are the reported results:
The patient breastfed exclusively for 6 weeks. During that time the child’s pediatrician reported that the child’s growth, feeding, and bowel habits were developmentally appropriate. At 6 weeks, the patient began supplementing breastfeedings with 4-8 oz of Similac brand formula daily due to concerns about insufficient milk volume. At the time of this article submission, the baby is approaching 6 months old.
This is were the suspicion we haven’t learned the whole story begins.
Newborn babies weighing 6-7 pounds require about 14-17 ounces of breast milk per day. This is double what the paper reports the man capable of producing.
Normally developing babies at six weeks need somewhere north of 24-30 ounces of milk daily. The paper reports the baby’s diet was only then supplemented by 4-8 ounces of formula. This means the man must have consistently been producing at least 20 ounces of milk per day!
Pull up a bottle, and click here to read the rest.