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Ethicists Charge Doctor With Trying to Prevent Homosexuality in the Womb
Date:8/6/2010

he U.S. National Institutes of Health. Girls and boys with CAH lack an enzyme needed by the adrenal gland to produce a pair of hormones, cortisol and aldosterone. The lack of these hormones prompts the body to produce more of the male sex hormone, androgen. This can cause girls to have genitals that look more male than female, even though their internal sex organs develop normally.

New declined to be interviewed for this article, but released a statement denying the charges.

"In my six years at Mount Sinai I have not administered the drug to any woman for the purpose of treating an unborn child," New's statement read. "Allegations that my goal is to prevent lesbianism are completely untrue." She added that she has received approval to conduct long-term evaluation of children who earlier received treatment with prenatal dexamethasone for CAH.

But Dreger said New's statement dodges the primary accusation that she and other ethicists have laid against the doctor: that New has recommended dexamethasone for use in treating CAH without notifying parents that the drug is not approved for that use.

"We're concerned that the women don't know the drug is experimental, or that they are part of an experiment," Dreger said. "All the major medical societies have said this is very experimental and should be done in clinical trials only, if at all."

Dreger noted that the Web site of the Maria New Children's Hormone Foundation attests that she "has treated over 600 pregnant women at risk for the birth of a CAH-affected child. Treatment begins as soon as pregnancy is confirmed." The Web site does not explain what treatment New used, only that she has been developing a treatment since 1984.

A number of major medical societies are drafting physician guidelines on the use of dexamethasone for CAH in a consensus paper prepared by the Endocrine Society and scheduled for publication in September in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism<
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