The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s official website published advice for trans and non-binary individuals on seeking guidance on how to “chestfeed” their infants.

In sections of the major health institute’s guidance on breastfeeding, it contained information for those who have had much of their breasts removed in gender-reassignment surgeries, or for biological men taking hormones to grow breasts, on how to feed their newborn children.

However, several doctors criticized the guidance, not simply because CDC has appeared to guide biological men in how to breastfeed children, but because they claimed the CDC has failed to gauge the risks posed to children drinking milk produced by chemicals used in gender-reassignment medical operations. 

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Signage stands outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was recently criticized for its website’s guidance on trans people breastfeeding their children.  (Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In the CDC website’s section on “Health Equity Considerations” – found under its “Infant and Young Child Feeding Toolkit,” the center declared that “Transgender and nonbinary-gendered individuals may give birth and breastfeed or feed at the chest (chestfeed).”

It also stated that “The gender identity or expression of transgender individuals is different from their sex at birth,” and that, “the gender identity of nonbinary-gendered individuals does not fit neatly into either man or woman.”

Under the CDC website’s section on “Breast Feeding,” specifically an entry covering breastfeeding for those who have undergone breast surgery, the institute mentioned “chestfeeding.” 

The CDC posed the question, “Can transgender parents who have had breast surgery breastfeed or chestfeed their infants?” It responded, “yes,” followed by an explanation.

“Some transgender parents who have had breast/top surgery may wish to breastfeed, or chestfeed (a term used by some transgender and non-binary parents), their infants” the CDC website states. “Healthcare providers working with these families should be familiar with medical, emotional, and social aspects of gender transitions to provide optimal family-centered care and meet the nutritional needs of the infant.”

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The official CDC website offered advice for trans women who are looking to “chest feed” their children. (Nathaniel Pawlowski)

The post added that these transgender parents “may need help with” “maximizing milk production, supplementing with pasteurized donor human milk or formula, medication to induce lactation or avoiding medications that inhibit lactation, suppressing lactation (for those choosing not to breastfeed or chestfeed)” and “Finding appropriate lactation management support, peer support, and/or emotional support.”

According to the Daily Mail, this advice may apply to biological men who can produce their own breastmilk by taking “hormone drugs” which mimic the changes that happen to a biological women’s body during the late stage of pregnancy.

However, the outlet noted that the FDA’s warning that one of these drugs, domperidone, “can pass into breast milk in small amounts and can sometimes give babies an irregular heartbeat as a result.”

The outlet spoke to multiple doctors who criticized the CDC for not mentioning the health risks posed to infants “chest feeding” from biological men transitioning with female-mimicking hormones. 

Executive director of the conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Jane Orient told The Daily Mail, “The CDC has a responsibility to talk about the health risks, but they have been derelict in doing that.”

She also claimed “we have no idea what the long-term effects on the child will be” if trans parents are using “all kinds of off-label hormones,” meaning drugs that are being used in a different purpose than for which they were intended. 

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Dr. Stuart Fischer, a New York-based internal medicine physician, told the Daily Mail that it is “very hard to believe” that the breast milk naturally-occurring in a biological female is the same as the breast milk induced in a biological man. 

He is also noted it is uncertain how the latter form of breast milk would affect infants, asking, “If it’s been tested a handful of times, how would we know the long-range effect? The short-term is one thing, but the long-term in terms of physical and mental illness…”

“It’s an emerging field, to put it mildly,” Fischer added. 

The CDC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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