The spectrum of teratogenic and carcinogenic effects which can be exerted when the unborn child is exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) has been shown to be broad.
Animal work indicates the need for vigilance as regards genetic susceptibility to DES sequelae. The emergence of third generation sequelae has been demonstrated in mice, and has been postulated to occur in humans.
Diethylstilbestrol, teratogenesis, and carcinogenesis: medical/legal implications of its long-term sequelae, including third generation effects, International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 171-193, 1990.
Given the emergent data establishing problems of infertility in men and women and of relatively late onset cancer, and the possibility that in utero exposure to DES may prime a variety of tissues to noxious environmental influences there is an urgent need for measures to provide just coverage for those harmed by the drug.
The DES disaster also raises important ethical and research questions which demand attention.