Between the time that diethylstilbestrol (DES) was first manufactured in 1938 and the discovery of related health problems in 1971, an estimated 5-10 million pregnant women and their children were exposed to the drug. In 1971, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to physicians advising them not to prescribe DES to pregnant women. The warning was based on a discovery the same year that exposure to DES before birth (in the womb) increased the risk of clear cell adenocarcinoma (CCA) of the vagina (Herbst, 1971) and cervix (Noller, 1972). Since the time that DES was linked to CCA, researchers have been monitoring the health problems of women prescribed DES during pregnancy and their children exposed to DES before birth (in the womb).
Researchers are currently working to learn more about DES. It is possible that they will learn about new health risks as individuals who were exposed to DES grow older. Health risks that are currently being investigated and related concerns that may not be confirmed by research are discussed in this section.
This section of CDC's DES Update will help you understand and use research about DES and includes the following information:
- Understanding DES Research – Tips for interpreting and understanding DES scientific research.
- Recent DES Research – A review of current DES research.
- DES Bibliography – A list of published research and other sources of DES information grouped by main topic.
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