Gender-related behavior in women prenatally exposed to DES

Diethylstilbestrol exposures influence brain development and the differentiation of the central nervous system

1993 Study Abstract

Accumulating evidence in experimental animals over the past three decades suggests that mammalian brain development and differentiation of the central nervous system are influenced by perinatal exposure to sex hormones.

Gender-related behavior in women exposed prenatally to diethylstilbestrol, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Environmental health perspectives, NCBI PubMed PMID: 8404755, 1993 Aug.

Dancing statues image credit Oiluj Samall Zeid.

Hence, changes in human behavioral patterns may be associated with prenatal exposure to estrogenic substances such as diethylstilbestrol (DES).

This paper reviews relevant studies from a series of laboratories and finds that no clear-cut differences can be demonstrated to date between unexposed and DES-exposed women in gender-related behavior, although the physical and psychological impact of the problems associated with exposure to DES are well documented.

If both prenatal and postnatal influences such as social, economic, and environmental factors are taken into consideration, individual variation is more apparent than differences in gender-related behavior between unexposed and DES-exposed women.

In summary, gender-related behavior is determined by a complex array of interacting factors, and prenatal influences are only one of many developmental events. More studies are needed using larger populations with carefully controlled selection criteria to suggest a direct role of prenatal DES exposure on subsequent gender-related behavior.

Download (free access) the full PDF on NCBI.

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