England’s National Health Service announced it will no longer prescribe puberty blockers to children under the age of 18.

“We have concluded that there is not enough evidence to support the safety or clinical effectiveness of (Puberty suppressing hormones) to make the treatment routinely available at this time,” the NHS said about the decision, announced on March 12.

In January 2020, the NHS commissioned a Policy Working Group to conduct a review of the existing evidence on puberty blockers, medication that prevents the body from releasing hormones and delays the development of secondary sex characteristics.

Currently, fewer than 100 young people were prescribed this treatment by the British NHS and will be able to stay on it, per BBC.

The nine observational studies found “no statistically significant difference in gender dysphoria, mental health, body image and psychosocial functioning in children and adolescents” being treated with puberty blockers, according to a document on the NHS website. The health agency said it plans to review the long-term effects of puberty blockers by December.

Children and young adults can become a part of a clinical trial to seek this treatment on a case-by-case basis. It will also be available through a select few private gender identity clinics.

Maria Caulfield, the U.K. health minister, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, said, “I welcome this groundbreaking change as children’s safety and wellbeing are paramount.”

LGBTQ+ activist groups have criticized the health ministry’s decision.

According to CNN, Mermaids, a charity that supports trans and non-binary youth, said that the NHS announcement is “deeply disappointing, and a further restriction of support offered to trans children and young people through the NHS, which is failing trans youth.”

Caulfield also received backlash and wrote another post in response, saying, “Thanks for the overnight threats and abuse but I won’t apologize for stopping the use of puberty blockers in children,” adding, “This is the right thing for the Government to do.”

John Stewart, national director of specialized commissioning at NHS England, said, “Given that the debate is often very polarized, so too were the responses to the consultation,” as BBC reported.

“Many people said the policy didn’t go far enough in terms of still allowing potential access (to puberty blockers) through research, and others saying clearly they disagreed fundamentally and that these should be routinely available to everyone who believes they need it,” he said.

The move by NHS comes amid an uptick of cases referred to the Gender Identity Development Service, a national health clinic, from 1,683 referrals from 2011 to 2015 to more than 14,000 between 2017 and 2022.

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In the U.S., several states, including Utah, have prohibited transgender surgery and hormone treatment.

These bans have been opposed by the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics, which argue that medical interventions, often referred to as gender-affirming care, help teens with gender dysmorphia, as the Deseret News previously reported. But opponents of the treatments, including medical doctors, say there is evidence they may have serious side effects, such as sterility, decreased sexual function and osteoporosis.

There is a sharp divide between U.S. and Europe, where many countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France and Finland, have restricted access to puberty blockers, which are still available in many U.S. states, according to Forbes.