Why Did Three Journals Reject My Puberty-Blocker Study?

Sallie Baxendale
February 12, 2024   7 mins

What happens during puberty? And what happens if we try to stop it? It’s one of the most fraught questions of our time. Given its significance and the vulnerability of the people it involves, you might be surprised to learn that there have been more studies assessing the impact of puberty blockers on cognitive function in animals than humans. Of the 16 studies that have specifically examined the impact of puberty blockers on cognitive function, 11 have been conducted in animals. And most found some detrimental impact on cognitive function when the researchers gave these drugs to mice, sheep or monkeys.

The sheep studies were particularly interesting as they used twin lambs, administering the puberty blockers to only one in the pair. More than one year after stopping the medication, the sheep who had taken the puberty blockers had still not “caught up” with their untreated siblings in their ability to complete a test of spatial memory. It can, however, be fairly argued that we can only extrapolate so much from the abilities of sheep to remember the way through a maze of hay bales. It is really the studies in humans that are of most interest to those considering prescribing or taking these drugs.