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Diethylstilbestrol May Have Transgenerational Effect

Babies whose mothers were exposed to DES in utero may be at higher risk for esophageal atresia/tracheoesophageal fistula

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The mothers of some babies with esophageal atresia and associated tracheoesophageal fistula (EA/TEF) were exposed in utero to diethylstilbestrol, indicating that the synthetic estrogen may have a transgenerational effect, according to study findings published in the July issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Janine F. Felix, M.D., of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues gathered data on in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol, or DES, from several sources: Parents identified through a parents' association of children with EA/TEF completed questionnaires on DES exposure in utero; data from a hospital database of EA/TEF patients; and the Netherlands birth defect registry were all used.

Of the 124 mothers from the parents' association, three (2.4 percent) reported in utero exposure to DES, as did six (3.1 percent) of the 192 women in the hospital database and 33 (0.37 percent) of mothers of the 8,848 children in the birth defects registry.

"The relatively large number of cases of maternal in utero exposure to DES in patients with EA/TEF found in our population should alert us to possible transgenerational effects of DES, related hormones, and other environmental factors, and underscores the need for continued awareness and follow-up of DES-exposed mothers and their children," the authors conclude.

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