Boy given estrogen in ‘experimental’ treatment under juvenile detention
A lawsuit has alleged that a 16-year-old boy started to grow breasts after being wrongfully prescribed to take estrogen during his stay inside a Los Angeles juvenile detention center in the United States.
The teenager, whose name was withheld due to his age, was said to have been “medically treated by doctors without obtaining voluntary and informed consent” in June 2019, the lawsuit filed against Los Angeles County read.
The lawsuit, which was filed only last month, states that the parents of the minor were also not informed by the medical professionals of Eastlake Juvenile Hall, taking away their chance to deny or give permission.
The teen was diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), which is correlated with elevated levels of testosterone and delinquency in youths, as per the lawsuit.
Health professionals of the said institution were also said to have “invasively” drawn blood and urine samples from the minor, also without his and his parents’ consent. The teen was then prescribed to take 30 doses of Estradiol, otherwise known as the female hormone estrogen, by one Dr. Danny Wang and the medical staff of the detention center.
ODD, however, is normally treated through therapy and never by estrogen, the Los Angeles Times was told by James McGough, a clinical psychiatry professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Estrogen is not a treatment for ODD. I can’t be more emphatic about that,” McGough was quoted as saying in a July 15 report. “You won’t find a reference anywhere that supports the use of estrogen for ODD.”
Physical and emotional damages
After receiving the 13th dose of estrogen, the minor developed gynecomastia, which is the enlarging of breast tissue that the boy did not have prior to taking the female hormone.
“The Minor developed soreness, pain and discomfort around the gynecomastia and began growing hairs around the areole, while further developing acne and pimples to his face, head and body,” the lawsuit read.
He also started suffering from psychological, emotional and cognitive symptoms of depression, anxiety, worrying, insomnia, inability to concentrate, attention problems and headaches, among others.
This “experimental” treatment, as described by the lawsuit, was done not only without the plaintiff’s consent, but while the staff was also misleading him, according to the lawsuit.
The minor, who said he would have refused to take estrogen if he had known, was reportedly told by a nurse at one point that she was injecting him medication to treat a small “nodule” on his breast, after he asked what he was taking. The nurse did not say it was estrogen she was injecting him with.
The medical staff also reportedly told the minor that he is not allowed to reject the medication. The lawsuit alleges that because of this, the minor felt coerced and threatened to take the estrogen because he did not want to receive negative case notes, which will affect his pending delinquency case.
The lawsuit names L.A. County, Wang and David, the medical director of Juvenile Court Health Services, as defendants of the medical battery and negligence suit.
The teenager, now 17-year-old, is set to undergo surgery to treat the affected tissues due to the estrogen “treatment,” according to the minor’s attorney and probation officers, the report said. He was released last April. Ian Biong/JB
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.