Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol and the mother-daughter relationship

European journal of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology, 1996

mother-daughter-relationship image
Exposure to DES may reveal pre-existing difficulties not only between the mother and the daughter, but sometimes beyond from generation to generation.

1996 Study Abstract

The psychological consequences resulting from the exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a non-steroidal oestrogen, on the mother-daughter relationship are studied using semi-directive interviews with 43 daughters and 7 mothers treated with DES during their pregnancies. These women referred to gynaecological consultation for DES-related problems.

The daughters, exposed to DES during their foetal life, learned about DES after a pregnancy mishap (35% of the cases), or by accident (65% of the cases). All of them were shocked when the existence of DES and its side effects were revealed to them. Consequences on the mother-daughter relationship were absent in 60% of the cases, favourable in 20%, and negative in 20%. Five percent of the women showed hostility towards the medical practice, but 65% were not suspicious of the drugs administered to them during their pregnancies. For 64% of them, administration of DES to their mother had been kept secret. In 7 out of 50 cases, parents alone came for medical assistance in order to manage the secret.

Exposure to DES may reveal pre-existing difficulties not only between the mother and the daughter, but sometimes beyond from generation to generation.

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Alterations of maternal Estrogen Levels during Gestation affect the Skeleton of Female Offspring

DES side-effects on bones

Alterations of maternal estrogen levels during gestation affect the skeleton of female offspring
DES side-effects on bones

Estrogens have important effects on bone turnover in both humans and experimental animals models. Moreover, the decreased level of estrogen after menopause appears to be one of the key factors in determining postmenopausal osteoporosis. The presence of estrogen receptor in both osteoblasts and osteoclasts has suggested a direct role of these steroid hormones on bone tissue. Thus, this tissue is now regarded as a specific estrogen target tissue. Exposure to estrogens during various stages of development has been shown to irreversibly influence responsive target organs. We have recently shown that transient developmental neonatal exposure (days 1-5 of life) of female mice to estrogen resulted in an augmented bone density in the adult animals. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether short-term modification of maternal estrogen levels during pregnancy would induce changes in the skeleton of the developing fetuses and to identify any long-term alterations that may occur. Pregnant mice were injected with varying doses (0.1-100 micrograms/kg maternal BW) of the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) from day 9-16 of pregnancy. Offspring were weaned at 21 days of age, and effects on bone tissue of the female mice were evaluated in adulthood (6-9 months of age). Prenatal DES treatment(s) did not significantly affect BW. However, a dose-dependent increase in bone mass, both in the trabecular and cortical compartments, was observed in the prenatal DES-exposed female offspring. Furthermore, long bones of DES-exposed females were shorter than controls. Normal skeletal mineralization accompanied these changes in the bone tissue, as shown by a parallel increase in skeletal calcium content. Double tetracycline labeling performed in 6-month-old DES-exposed animals showed an increase in mineral apposition rate in adult DES-exposed mice as compared with untreated control animals, although no significant difference in the circulating estrogen levels was found in animals of this age. Experiments were then performed to evaluate whether perturbation of the estrogen surge at puberty in these diethylstilbestrol (DES)-exposed mice could reverse the observed changes. Femur length was chosen as a marker of potential estrogenic effect. Prepubertal ovariectomy of the prenatally DES-treated animals could only partially reverse the effects observed in the skeleton of the DES-treated animals. Further experiments were performed to evaluate whether these changes could have occurred in utero. CD-1 pregnant female mice were injected with DES (100 micrograms/kg maternal BW) from days 9-15 of gestation. On day 16 of gestation, fetuses were examined and stained by a standard Alizarin Red S and Alcian Blue procedure to visualize calcified and uncalcified skeletal tissue. Estrogen treatment induced an increase in the amount of calcified skeleton as compared with untreated controls and also a decrease in the length of long bones, strongly suggesting a change in both endochondral ossification and endosteal and periosteal bone formation. In summary, these data show, for the first time, that alterations in the maternal estrogenic levels during pregnancy can influence early phases of fetal bone tissue development and subsequently result in permanent changes in the skeleton. Finally, the effect of this short-term estrogen treatment can be seen in the fetal skeleton, suggesting an estrogen-imprinting effect on bone cell-programming in fetal life because treatment effects on bone cell turnover can be observed later in adult life. ”

Abstract, NCBI Endocrinology, May 1996 – Full text here

Related post: Alterations in Estrogen Levels during Development affects the Skeleton: use of an Animal Model, October 1995.

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Our stolen Future

The hardback edition, released March 1996

DES was just one of many new synthetic chemicals that promised to give us control over the forces of nature

Our Stolen Future
We should have known better!
You can’t mess with Mother Nature, and win …

A book by Dr. Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski and Dr. John Peterson Myers

Read Our Stolen Future: Excerpts from Chapter 4, Hormone Havoc.

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