Preeclampsia risk in women exposed in utero to diethylstilbestrol

Preeclampsia is a common pregnancy complication characterized by maternal hypertension, hyperuricemia, and proteinuria frequently involving shallow placentation

Preeclampsia-risk image
This 2007 study showed that In utero DES exposure was associated with nearly a 50% elevation in preeclampsia risk, a common pregnancy complication.

Abstract

Preeclampsia risk in women exposed in utero to diethylstilbestrol, Obstetrics and gynecology, NCBI PubMed PMID: 17601905, 2007 Jul.
Full text: Obstetrics & Gynecology, Volume 110 – Issue 1 – pp 113-120 doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000268796.75591.02, July 2007.

OBJECTIVE
To assess whether preeclampsia risk is elevated in pregnancies of diethylstilbestrol (DES)-exposed daughters.

METHODS
This study used data from the National Cancer Institute DES Combined Cohorts Follow-up Study. A total of 285 preeclampsia cases (210 exposed and 75 unexposed) occurred in 7,313 live births (4,759 DES exposed and 2,554 unexposed). Poisson regression analysis estimated relative risks and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for preeclampsia adjusted for age at the index pregnancy, parity, education, smoking, body mass index, year of diagnosis, and cohort.

RESULTS

  • In utero DES exposure was associated with nearly a 50% elevation in preeclampsia risk.
  • Adjustment for preeclampsia risk factors attenuated the relative risk slightly (1.42, 95% CI 1.04-1.94).
  • The excess risk with DES was concentrated among women who developed preeclampsia in their first pregnancies (relative risk 1.81, 95% CI 1.17-2.79), who were exposed before 15 weeks of gestation (relative risk 1.57, 95% CI 1.11-2.23), and who were treated with magnesium sulfate (relative risk 2.10, 95% CI 0.82-5.42).
  • Among DES-exposed women who had a prior hysterosalpingogram, preeclampsia prevalence was higher in those with uterine abnormalities (12.4%) than in those without (7.7%).

CONCLUSION
These data suggest that in utero exposure to DES is associated with a slightly elevated risk of preeclampsia, and that one possible biological mechanism involves uterine abnormalities.

DES Follow-up Study Summary

DES Follow-up Study Published Papers, National Cancer Institute, 1998-2015.

Women exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero experience a greater risk of adverse reproductive events including infertility, ectopic pregnancies, spontaneous pregnancy losses and premature births. These complications may in part be due to prenatal effects of DES on the structure of the uterus or cervix. Preeclampsia, a common pregnancy complication characterized by maternal hypertension, and high levels of uric acid and protein, frequently involves the placenta not entirely attaching to the mother’s endometrium (implantation). DES-associated uterine abnormalities and possible alterations in immune function may adversely affect successful implantation.

The hypothesis that prenatal DES exposure is associated with preeclampsia risk was previously addressed in a small case-control study that reported a greater than two-fold risk in women who reported a history of DES exposure compared with those who did not. We used data from the National Cancer Institute DES Combined Cohorts Follow-up Study to readdress this issue. A total of 285 preeclampsia cases (210 exposed and 75 unexposed) occurred in 7313 live births (4759 DES exposed and 2554 unexposed). Prenatal DES exposure was associated with nearly a 50% elevation in preeclampsia risk in the daughters’ pregnancies. Taking into account differences in DES exposed and unexposed women in preeclampsia risk factors including age at the pregnancy, number of pregnancies, education, smoking, a measure of body fatness, and year of preeclampsia diagnosis, the risk was slightly lower, about 40%. The increased risk of preeclampsia associated with prenatal DES exposure was concentrated among women who developed preeclampsia in their first pregnancy (80% higher risk), those who were exposed to DES before 15 weeks of pregnancy (57% higher risk) and those who were treated with magnesium sulfate (over two times the risk). Among DES-exposed women who had a prior hysterosalpingogram (a procedure that allows physicians to view the reproductive organs), preeclampsia prevalence was higher in those with uterine abnormalities (12.4%) than in those without (7.7%). Our data suggest that prenatal DES exposure is associated with a slightly elevated risk of preeclampsia that is possibly due to a higher prevalence of uterine abnormalities in DES daughters.

Women exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero experience a greater risk of adverse reproductive events including infertility, ectopic gestations, spontaneous pregnancy losses and premature births. These complications may in part be mediated through teratogenic effects, namely the structural uterine and cervical abnormalities that have been associated with in utero DES exposure. Preeclampsia, a common pregnancy complication characterized by maternal hypertension, hyperuricemia, and proteinuria frequently involves shallow placentation. Placental establishment requires cytotrophoblast invasion of the underlying stroma and blood vessels of the maternal endometrium, a process involving immune and angiogenic mechanisms. DES-associated uterine abnormalities and possible alterations in immune function (4-7) may adversely affect successful implantation.

The hypothesis that prenatal DES exposure is associated with preeclampsia risk was previously addressed in a small case-control study that reported a greater than two-fold risk in women who reported a history of DES exposure compared with those who did not.

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Author: DES Daughter

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