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DES Diethylstilbestrol
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CDC Launches New Comprehensive Information Resource About Exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (DES)

Mar 4, 2003 |

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the launch of the DES Update Web site, a resource that individuals who were pregnant or born during 1938–1971 can access to learn more about Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure and learn how exposure could affect them, their family, and their friends.

In the United States, an estimated five to 10 million people were exposed to DES, between 1938 and 1971. DES is a synthetic estrogen that was prescribed to prevent miscarriages or premature delivery. However, in 1971, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Drug Bulletin advising physicians to stop prescribing DES to pregnant women. The FDA warning was based on a study published in 1971 in the New England Journal of Medicine linking DES to a rare vaginal cancer in girls and young women exposed to DES in the womb.

Subsequent research links DES exposure to health risks among the women who were prescribed DES while pregnant and the children born to these women. Women who were prescribed DES while pregnant are at a modestly increased risk for breast cancer. Women exposed to DES in the womb-DES Daughters experience lifelong, increased risks that include a rare vaginal and cervical cancer, reproductive complications, and infertility. Men exposed to DES--DES Sons--face an increased risk for noncancerous epididymal cysts (growths on the testicles).

“Researchers have been studying the health effects of DES for more than 30 years,†said Marsha Vanderford, PhD, deputy director of the Office of Communication at CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health. “CDC’s DES Update Web site helps people who think they may have been exposed to DES learn more about health risks related to DES and provides resources for protecting their health.â€

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