Estrogen Therapy for Tall Teens Linked to Fertility Problems

Girls who took it during adolescence had more trouble conceiving later, study found

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THURSDAY, Oct. 21, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Tall girls who receive estrogen therapy during adolescence to reduce their adult height are more likely to have fertility problems later in life.

That's the conclusion of an Australian study in this week's issue of The Lancet.

This form of treatment has been available since the 1950s. Estrogen therapy alters the development of the long bones in adolescents and can reduce adult height by 2 centimeters to 10 centimeters.

The study researchers examined fertility information from 780 women. Half of them had received estrogen therapy during adolescence and half did not.

The study found that women who received estrogen therapy were 80 percent more likely than those in the control group to have tried for a year or more to become pregnant without success. The women in the estrogen group were also 80 percent more likely to have seen a doctor because they were having difficulty getting pregnant, and were twice as likely to have taken fertility drugs, the researchers said.

"Although the possibility of adverse reproductive effects of estrogen treatment for tall stature in girls has been acknowledged for many years, we believe ours is the first study to report long-term follow-up of the reproductive experiences of a large cohort of treated girls," lead investigator Alison Venn, of the University of Tasmania, said in a prepared statement.

"Our findings indicate that exposure to high-dose estrogens in adolescence is associated with impaired fertility in later life. This effect was seen as both a reduced per cycle rate of conception in those who conceived, and as an increase in the risk of experiencing infertility. The availability of infertility treatments is likely to have contributed to the finding that women who were treated for tall stature had only a small decrease in the probability of eventually conceiving and having a live birth compared with untreated women," Venn said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about teen growth.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Oct. 21, 2004

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