Can Diethylstilbestrol Use In Pregnancy

Can Diethylstilbestrol Use In Pregnancy.Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic nonsteroidal estrogen that was prescribed to pregnant women primarily between the late 1940s and the early 1970s. It was believed to prevent miscarriages and ensure a healthy pregnancy. However, decades later, significant health issues linked to DES exposure emerged, making it one of the most notorious cases of the risks associated with pharmaceuticals during pregnancy. This blog aims to provide a brief overview of DES, its historical use, and the lessons learned.

Can Diethylstilbestrol Use In Pregnancy

History of DES

In the late 1930s, DES was first synthesized and later introduced to the market as a treatment for a variety of conditions, including menopausal symptoms and certain cancers. By the 1940s, based on limited studies, it was marketed to pregnant women to prevent miscarriages and premature births.

The DES Disaster

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, a rare form of vaginal cancer, clear cell adenocarcinoma, was detected in young women. Further investigation linked this cancer to their mothers’ use of DES during pregnancy. Moreover, daughters exposed to DES in utero (referred to as “DES daughters”) were found to have an increased risk of reproductive tract abnormalities, infertility, and other health problems.

Similarly, sons exposed to DES in utero (referred to as “DES sons”) also faced health risks, including non-cancerous epididymal cysts and an increased risk of testicular abnormalities.

These revelations led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a warning in 1971 against the use of DES during pregnancy. Other countries soon followed suit.

The Aftermath

Since the discovery of the DES-related health issues, numerous studies have been conducted to understand the full range of health risks associated with DES exposure. Some of the long-term health risks for DES daughters include:

  • Clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina and cervix
  • Reproductive tract abnormalities
  • Infertility
  • Early menopause
  • Increased risk of breast cancer in women over 40

For DES sons, the risks include:

  • Testicular abnormalities
  • Reduced sperm quality
  • Epididymal cysts

In addition, some evidence suggests that even the third generation (grandchildren of women who took DES) might be at risk for certain health problems.

Lessons Learned

The DES tragedy underscores the importance of rigorous drug testing, especially for medications intended for pregnant women. It also highlights the significance of post-market surveillance and long-term studies, as the consequences of DES exposure were not immediately apparent.


While the DES chapter is a dark one in the annals of medical history, it offers crucial lessons. It serves as a poignant reminder that medications, even with the best intentions, can have unforeseen and dire consequences. Pregnant women and healthcare providers should always weigh the benefits and risks of medications during pregnancy and remain vigilant about emerging data on drug safety.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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