Findings in female offspring of women exposed in utero to diethylstilbestrol

Lower genital tract abnormalities in DES granddaughters

2002 Study Abstract

To examine a group of women (third-generation daughters) whose mothers were exposed in utero to diethylstilbestrol (DES) and compare their findings on pelvic examination with those noted in their mothers.

Letters were mailed to women documented to have been exposed in utero to DES who had given birth to a female offspring, inviting them to have their daughters come in for a detailed history and pelvic examination. Records of the mothers whose daughters appeared for examination were reviewed, and findings noted at the time of their initial examination were recorded. Detailed pelvic examination of the third-generation daughters included colposcopic examination and iodine staining of the vagina and cervix and Papanicolaou smear. The findings observed in these women were compared with those noted in their mothers at the time of their mothers’ first examination.

Twenty-eight third-generation daughters were examined. Three of the daughters were delivered from one mother. Review of the mothers’ records indicated that 16 (61.5%) of the mothers exposed to DES during their pregnancy demonstrated structural changes of the cervix, upper vagina, or vaginal epithelial changes consisting of adenosis, nonstaining vaginal epithelium after application of iodine solution, or white epithelium within the vagina. None of the daughters were found to have changes usually associated with DES exposure.

The absence of abnormalities in the lower genital tract in third-generation women compared with the high frequency of these abnormalities in their mothers suggests that third-generation carryover effects of in utero DES exposure are unlikely.


  • Findings in female offspring of women exposed in utero to diethylstilbestrol, Obstetrics and gynecology, PMID: 11814496, 2002 Feb.
  • 3D Animal Models featured image credit Paolo Bendandi.

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