Medical Care for the DES Daughter
If you were born between 1938 and 1971, you may be a "DES daughter," which means your mother may have taken this medicine to prevent miscarriages before it was banned by the FDA due to potential side effects. If you are a DES daughter, you are at increased risk of clear cell carcinoma of the vagina or cervix, as well as certain complications of pregnancy. It is a good idea to learn more about these risks and proper screening methods since some doctors may not be aware of the extra medical attention DES daughters need.
Diethylstilbestrol, the first synthetic estrogen, was first manufactured in 1938. The drug was routinely prescribed to prevent miscarriages in the early stages of pregnancy. It was heralded as a medical miracle, vigorously marketed, and promoted by many pharmaceutical companies.
All this positive press came to an end in 1971 because of research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The journal reported that a very rare form of cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina and cervix, which until then was mainly found in women over age 50, had been discovered in four young women. All of these women had been exposed to DES prenatally.
Additional research studies confirmed this evidence, and the FDA banned the drug. However, an estimated five million pregnant women had already been exposed to the harmful effects of DES.
Last reviewedJuly 2012by Brian P. Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.