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(LifeSiteNews) – A group of medical experts commended Swedish health officials for announcing sweeping restrictions on dangerous transgender drugs for minors, saying the move will help safeguard vulnerable children.

In updated guidelines last month, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (NBHW) recommended “restraint” regarding cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers for children, pointing to significant side-effect risks and “uncertain science.”

Hormonal interventions will be now prohibited entirely for minors who develop gender dysphoria after the start of puberty, NBHW said, and otherwise may only be used in research settings or “exceptional cases.” Gender dysphoria is a mental illness due to a so-called “gender identity” at odds with an individual’s biological sex.

The risks of hormone drugs “outweigh the possible benefits,” the NBHW concluded. The agency had previously approved the drugs for gender-confused children in 2015.

The Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine (SEGM), an international non-profit organization of more than 100 physicians and researchers, welcomed Sweden’s reversal as an “impressive step.”

The new guidance means that eligibility for “puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones in Sweden will be sharply curtailed,” the group said in a post last week. “The update to the Swedish treatment guidelines represents an impressive step toward safeguarding the growing numbers of gender dysphoric youth from medical harm arising from inappropriate gender transition.”

“SEGM hopes that other countries will follow Sweden’s example, independently examining the body of evidence and issuing evidence-based guidelines for medical care,” the organization said.

The NBHW guidelines cited an evidence review last month by the Swedish Board of Medical and Social Evaluation (SBU), which found that there have never been any quality studies on the use of hormone drugs in children with gender dysphoria. The review added that long-term effects of the drugs, including on cognitive function and body mass, can’t be determined.

Puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are both linked to serious and life-threatening side effects, such as heart attack, increased risk of stroke, osteoporosis, and liver problems, as well as sterility and other fertility issues.

SEGM also pointed out limitations of the Swedish guidelines, which don’t protect vulnerable young adults at risk of lifelong damage from “gender transition” procedures.

The number of young people between ages 18 and 25 with “significant mental health comorbidities” who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria “has risen rapidly in recent years as have reports of regret and detransition from this group,” SEGM said. “The need to safeguard this vulnerable cohort requires careful consideration because though they are recognized as ‘young adults,’ this cohort is distinctly different from mature adults due to differences in terms of brain maturity and life experiences.”

And SEGM raised concerns about Sweden’s plans to ramp up psychotherapy and “gender exploration” as alternatives to hormonal interventions, saying that “it is not clear how this expertise will be developed and scaled.”

But the updated recommendations in the liberal Scandinavian country, SEGM noted, are a major departure from standards pushed by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), a radical, pro-LGBT group frequently cited as a leading authority on “gender transition.”

WPATH draft guidelines announced earlier this year advocate for drugs and “sex change” surgeries as the standard approach to gender dysphoria in children, with no minimum age for puberty blockers. Inability to consent “should not be an impediment” to “gender transition” procedures, said the group, which recommends mastectomies for adolescent girls with gender confusion.

Swedish health officials’ shift on transgender hormone drugs follows a report in November revealing that more than a dozen minors given puberty blockers at Sweden’s Karolinska Children’s Hospital suffered “severe injuries” as a result. One 11-year-old girl ended up with osteoporosis and damaged vertebrae due to the drugs, while other children suffered liver damage and reduced bone density, and some became suicidal, Swedish broadcaster SVT reported.

Karolinska Children’s Hospital, known for one of the country’s most prominent “gender identity” clinics, announced in May that it will no longer prescribe hormones and puberty blocking drugs for gender dysphoria, except in clinical trials.

The pediatric hospital was the first in Sweden to conduct “gender identity assessments” and performed mutilating “sex change” surgeries on kids, including a girl subjected to a mastectomy at just 14 years old. The five other Swedish “gender identity” centers have reportedly backed away from the practices as well in recent months.