Bibbo’s 1975 study revealed anatomic abnormalities such as epididymal cysts, undescended and hypoplastic testis in males exposed to DES in utero
This is a follow-up study of male and female offspring of mothers who were part of a double-blind placebo controlled investigation during the years 1951-1952, originally aimed at determining the usefulness of DES administration in maintaining pregnancy. So far, 84 DES-exposed females, 43 female controls, 42 DES-exposed males and 37 male controls have been examined.
Circumferential ridges of the vagina and cervix were seen in 39% of the DES-exposed females but in none of the controls. Colposcopy revealed vaginal epitheleal changes in 78% of the DES-exposed females 2% of the female controls. Cytology proved to be reliable as a screening test for vaginal epithelial changes in the DES-exposed female. Urine cytology was negative for tumor cells in all patients.
The main abnormal finding in the DES-exposed males was that cysts in the epididymis were detected in 10%. No cases of cancer were observed in either the male or female offspring.
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The original study conducted 22 years earlier at the Chicago Lying-in Hospital attempted to determine the value of diethylstilbestrol (DES) in maintaining pregnancy. The number completing the course of therapy was 840 in the DES group; there were 860 in a control group. Increasing doses were given beginning during the 7th week of pregnancy. The present study was to determine the level of risk of cancer and other anomalies in the female and male offspring of mothers who participated in the study. So far, 84 DES-exposed females, 43 female controls, 43 DES-exposed males, and 37 male controls have been examined.
No cases of cancer have been found. The average age was 22 years. For female patients the medical history, a general physical examination, a gynecological examination, a colposcopic study, and laboratory tests were made. Laboratory tests consisted of cervical, endocervical, and 4 vaginal wall Pap smears, urine cytology, and follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone determinations. Biopsies were performed when indicated. Progesterone and total estrogens were determined only in patients with irregular menstrual cycles. In male patients, a general physical examination, urologic studies, and laboratory work-up were done. Medical records of all the newborn infants were surveyed and pediatric records examined. No cases of congenital malformations were recorded. Minor differences in menstrual histories and in ability to conceive were noted.
The differences appeared mainly at vaginal examinations. Circumferential ridges in the vagina and cervix were seen in 39% of the exposed females but in none of the controls. Erythroplakia of the cervix was seen in 67% of the exposed and in 53% of the controls. Colposcopic findings in the vagina revealed vaginal epithelial changes in 78% of the DES-exposed females and 2% of female controls. Iodine negative areas in the vagina were noted in 78% of the exposed females compared with 2% of the unexposed females. Iodine negative areas on the cervix were seen in 74% of the exposed and 58% of the unexposed. All dysplastic lesions were confirmed by histology. The cytology was negative in all.
In the males abnormal findings were noted mainly in the DES-exposed group. An undersized penis was noted in 2, small testes in 2, varicocele in 1, and epididymal cysts in 4. Urine cy tology and prostatic fluid cytology did not reveal unusual findings. A more detailed analysis of findings will follow when material is larger and older.
- Follow-up study of male and female offspring of DES-treated mothers a preliminary report, The Journal of reproductive medicine, NCBI PubMed, PMID: 1171234, 1975 Jul.
- Featured image credit Oli Metcalfe.