of midlife and later health effects on persons exposed to DES in
utero have not yet been completed. Identification of men exposed
to DES in utero (DES Sons) often requires information from their
mothers. Since many of these mothers are now elderly, if men exposed
to DES are not identified now the opportunity to identify many of
them may be lost.
In the United States, DES was prescribed primarily to prevent spontaneous
abortion and premature delivery between 1938 and 1971 (12). Never
patented, it was prescribed under more than 200 brand
names under a variety of dosage regimens, including in combination
with vitamins (290). DES was shown to lack efficacy for prevention
of pregnancy complications in 1953 (291). However, it was still
widely prescribed until it was demonstrated, in the early 1970s,
that women exposed to DES in utero (DES Daughters) developed clear
cell adenocarcinoma (CCA) of the vagina and cervix at a rate significantly
higher than the general population (132,157).
Although public education campaigns were taken, not all men exposed
to DES in utero (DES Sons) know about their exposure. DES was prescribed
to pregnant women outside the United States after 1971, and is still
available in oral form for human use in some countries today (294).
Some men may be aware that their mothers were prescribed DES while
pregnant. Others may suspect that they did, based on a mother's
history of recurrent miscarriage and recollection of being treated
with oral medication to prevent miscarriage during pregnancy between
1938 and 1971.
Men who may have been exposed to DES in utero should be encouraged
to discuss the issue with their mothers, and, when possible, obtain
their mother's obstetrical records. This is of particular importance
since the health risks to DES Sons are still partially unknown.
Many women who were prescribed DES while pregnant are elderly. If
their children and grandchildren are not informed of their potential
risk, opportunities for future intervention may be lost. For more
information on the drug DES, including details of current usage,
please refer to DES: Pharmacology.
For a complete list of the numbered citations
on this page see DES References.
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