By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com August 05 2012 11:44 AM ET
A new report out of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine details the dangerous experiementation that's been going on in fetal engineering, in which doctors are using a synthetic steroid to prevent female babies from being born with "behavioral masculinzation," or rather a propensity toward lesbianism, bisexuality, intersexuality, and tomboyism.
The paper, published in the current issue of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, is authored by Alice Dreger, professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Ellen Feder, associate professor of philosophy and religion at American University, and Anne Tamar-Mattis, executive director of Advocates for Informed Choice.
The women utilized extensive Freedom of Information Act findings to "detail an extremely troubling off-label medical intervention employed in the U.S. on pregnant women to intentionally engineer the development of their fetuses for sex normalization purposes."
According to the researchers, pregnant women who are at risk for having a child born with the condition congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), an endocrinological condition that can result in female fetuses being born with intersex or more male-typical genitals and brains, are being given dexamethasone, a synthetic steroid, off-label starting as early as week five of the first trimester to try to “normalize” the development of those fetuses, which are female and CAH-affected. Because the drug must be administered before doctors can know if the fetus is female or CAH-affected, only one in eight of those exposed are the target type of fetus.
The paper claims that this off-label intervention does not prevent CAH, but in fact just targets sex normalization. Like DES, a drug widely given to pregnant women in the 1970s which has shown to cause cancer and reproductive abnormalities in children and is now banned, dexamethasone is a synthetic steroid. The researchers say that the dose reaching the fetus is 60 to 100 times what the body would normally experience and almost 90% of fetuses exposed do not benefit from it..
The researchers claim this is a dangerous experiment on pregnant women and their fetuses that may turn into a tragedy like the one experienced with DES. In addition to reproductive abnormalities (that extend to second generations as well) and higher rates of certain cancers, male fetuses exposed to DES in utero have also been show to have higher rates of gender dysphoria than in the general population. Research on DES continues.
To read the full report on dexamethasone use in pregnant women, click here.