Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago opens first midwest Gender and Sex Development Program

December 2, 2013 2:15:17 PM PST
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago opened the Midwest's first Gender and Sex Development Program for children and adolescents with gender non-conforming behavior, as well as those born with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia and other sex development conditions that can result in ambiguous genitalia.

According to a release, the outpatient program includes a diverse team of specialists from disciplines including General Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine, Endocrinology, Urology, Surgery, Psychiatry and Psychology.

"We created this unique combined program because although these two different patient populations deal with very separate issues, their care involves the same team of specialists," said Earl Cheng, MD, pediatric urologist at Lurie Children's and Professor of Urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who founded the program with Rob Garofalo, MD. Garofalo is the Division Head of Adolescent Medicine and directs Lurie Children's Adolescent/Young Adult HIV Program and the Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention through the Lurie Children's Research Center. He is also Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

The Gender and Sex Development program provides comprehensive, family-centered care and services for children with gender non-conforming behavior, gender-questioning and transgender, and children and adolescents with sex development conditions including ambiguous genitalia, the release said.

''These conditions are often misunderstood and can be devastating for parents and their children,'' said Cheng. ''In the sex development cases, for example, the child may need medical attention immediately after birth and we have the specialists on staff to make an accurate diagnosis and to guide the family on proper medical and surgical treatment. ''We help navigate these challenges by providing our families with education, exceptional and affirming clinical care, support, and ongoing consultation to ensure that these children and their families thrive.''

A major focus of the program, according to the hospital's release, is to provide the appropriate psychological support for patients and their families, as well as address their medical and surgical needs.

''As specialists in pediatric and adolescent gender development, we recognize that when it comes to providing effective care 'no one size fits all.' Therefore, our goal is to keep our families most informed of their treatment options, supporting them with medical and behavioral health care along the way,'' said Garofalo. "Our Gender Program fills a need for these patients ? some as young as four years of age -- who need the guidance and support to help them better navigate their lives.'' Lurie Children's is one of only a handful of children's hospitals in the country to offer a combined program for gender and sex development.

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