Watch “The Truth about Pills and Pregnancy”

BBC Panorama video with reporter Shelley Jofre

Many women have to take medicines while pregnant. But could they be risking the health of their unborn child? Decades after the Thalidomide scandal shocked the world, Panorama reveals how another medicine has damaged far more children. Drugs cannot be tested on pregnant women for ethical reasons, so doctors do not know if most prescription drugs are safe for the unborn child, and the system set up to monitor side-effects appears to be flawed. As evidence emerges that some common antidepressants are linked to heart defects in babies, the programme asks how much we really know about the safety of medicines women take while pregnant

    • Video by dixiefid64, Published on 3 Jul 2013.
    • The program is very interesting but unfortunately does not mention the DES drug tragedy. Once again DES is ignored. WHY? It would have been such a great opportunity. What’s wrong with DES? Is it because with DES, the Media can’t show upsetting photos of children born with no arms or legs like the victims of Thalidomide, or newborn babies who have undergone traumatic heart surgery because of the effects associated with the antidepressant drug their mum took during pregnancy? Is it because DES is the very first drug scandal which should have prevented many others to happen? All victims of drugs prescribed during pregnancy should join forces! The stories are all the same and highlights the same failure of our health system and the government response to the devastating consequences of these drugs. DES, Thalidomide, epilepsy drug Epilim, antidepressants … how many more victims are needed to put in place safeguards to protect mothers and their unborn child?
    • Find out more about DES exposure and the long-term health effects associated with prenatal exposure to DES drug.
More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

37 thoughts on “Watch “The Truth about Pills and Pregnancy””

  1. I agree that all of us who’ve been affected by prenatal drug exposures should join forces.
    While trying to find out about DES, I discovered that there’s another group of people affected by prenatal hormones, in this case a drug called Primodos. Primodos was basically a high dosage version of the same artificial hormones used in contraceptive pills, and (believe it or not) in both the UK and Europe, used to be the standard way of telling whether a woman whose period was late was pregnant or not. If she wasn’t pregnant, the drug would cause her period to start. Otherwise she was pregnant (but, as it turns out) now carrying a potentially deformed baby.

    It’s like a European version of DES in a lot of ways. It happened in much the same time period (the 1950s to the 1970s), and for years, doctors ignored evidence that many of the women being given the drug were later giving birth to deformed babies. When they finally did realise there was a problem, the whole disaster was basically covered up, and AFAIK none of the victims has ever received any compensation.

    Some of them have set up a facebook page
    I tried messaging them earlier this year but they haven’t gotten back to me. Would anyone with better diplomatic skills be able to contact them and see if they are interested in working with us?

    1. Thanks Hugh for bringing this to our attention. It sounds horrific! We’ll look into it. There’s so much we don’t know! It’s frightening! We’ll try to get in touch with this group and raise awareness of this pregnancy test and its devastating consequences. How many more of these prenatal drug exposure scandals have been covered up? Shocking !!!

    2. Hi myself am a victim of primodos My MP being Yasmin Qureshi Bolton south east .Yamin and myself have wrote many letters to the government to prove there has been a cover up from the company and our government and finally Daniel poulter the health minister has agreed to meet Yasmin and the primodos victims our solicitor has said that primodos is the bigest medical and legal cover up of the 21 centuary hopefully we will all get the truth and justice

    3. Hi Hugh, Only just been fortunate to see your comments on DES. I am the Chair of the Association for children damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests (including Primodos) and I would be happy to speak with you about the similarities we share with the failure of our own Health Authority and the Drug Companies. Please contact me on 01942 224720. My name is Marie Lyon.

  2. I would hazard a guess that the program researchers have been victims of the DES “cover-up” and the silence by academics and medical professionals. Just imagine if DES was included in this program, the story would have been far more damning for the drug regulators and so blatantly obvious that DES lessons had not been learned. BBC Panorama should be informed about this.
    Carol Devine

  3. I wonder if there’s actually a D notice in force against DES, or at least something related to the DES disaster that makes it very difficult for the UK news media to cover the story? A D notice is a secret government order that prohibits the news media from running stories about the subjecdt of the notice – and from telling anyone that the D notice exists! Maybe the UK government is worried that, if the truth about DES ever got out, they woulsd be financially liable in a big way.

    In the Chameleons survey about DES and transgender mentioned recently on this site, there’s a comment by Rosalind, July 8 2011, about a secret program run by the UK in the 1950s to increase the birthrate using hormones, including DES:

    “Without boring you with the finer details, whilst DES was in use before World War II, its use did indeed become more widespread in the 1950s. But, more importantly in my case, there were ‘programs’ instigated at designated places such as clinics and hospitals designed to tackle the birth rate issue. The birth rate after World War II was not satisfactory for a number of reasons – not only were there areas where the ‘fallout’ from the war was thought to have affected the infertility rate and birth defects rate, and certain areas had lost a lot of their population in the war, but many couples were simply not trying to start a family – we have to remember that rationing of vital items was still commonplace during most of the 1950s, and financial hardship was rife. The UK authorities had identified a number of geographical areas where the ‘experimental programs’ should be undertaken.

    One of the papers I discovered that was released not that long ago confirmed that the hospital in which I was born, together with the attached clinic, took part in that program. And this also explains why my mother would have traveled some 20kms beyond our town for treatment and delivery when our own town had more hospitals than any other in our county. Until that confirmation, I had always wondered why this would be the case – and, I should add, the town (which was the county ‘capital’) was miss-spelt (although the unusual ‘reference’ to the clinic was not) on most documents concerning my birth that I had been able to locate.

    I am pretty sure that the practitioners were aware at that time of possible complications when using the program too. That would certainly explain why I would need regular check-ups (every 3 months at first, and then every 6 months) for many years at only one designated doctor – and possibly why the discussions afterwards were always held out of my earshot. Apart from an inclination to contract Bronchitis from my teenage years onwards, I am not aware of any other serious medical issue I have or have had – yet my mother would mash a couple of rather awful looking pills into my food on a regular basis for many years.

    Now, as far as I could determine, the treatments in that program combined drugs similar to, and some perhaps derived from, DES. I could find no direct reference to the use of DES itself in any of the family documents I located. That is perhaps not surprising when one considers that DES was available under various ‘brand’ names. But I did find some evidence that a similar drug was used, along with ethinyloestradiol (oestrogen) and a number of synthetic progesterones – and that other drugs were combined in order to counter the ‘unwanted’ effects. The program appears to have been quite extensive and included more than just the application of drugs. From all accounts I came across with reference to this program, it would appear that it just ‘stopped’ being used sometime around 1955-1956. I have yet to see any genuine ‘facts’ as to why that was the case, though there were plenty of indications that the authorities may have considered the side-effects to be too great in comparison with the use of DES alone.”

  4. The scandal of drugs given in pregnancy have been going on for the past 50 years. Primodos the sister oestrogen drug to prescribe a pregnancy is an example of total negligence by the drug company, Schering Chemicals and the UK government who did very little to warn pregnant mothers that Primodos (equivalent to 80 contraceptive drugs ) was researched by Scherings Chief Senior Medical Officer who falsified research studies on Primodos and the contraceptive pill over fifty years ago.Like most hormone drugs DES, the Pill and Primodos were experimented on prisoners of war at Auschwitch where all hormone drugs as we know today began their route as part of the IG Farben, a cartel of all German Pharmacuetical Co’s just before WW2. Who rebuilt and financed Auschwitz, using their own Scientist to experiment on innocent prisoners of war.
    Schering part of Bayer today have denied any connnection their drug Primodos caused any damage to the foetus, but I ask today, “Where is your original research studies to back up your claim that Primodos was safe to use on the unborn baby”?. Professor Briggs who origingally said he carried out these research studies, confessed two weeks before he died in 2012 to a reputable Journalist that his oringal studies were forced. Do we not have the right to answers why millions of women the world over continue to take the pill believing it was researched as safe to use. Why was Primodos put on the market also as safe to used when we now have information from Kew Government files which state, Schering’s original Rat Studies on Primodos revesled mutilple abortions to the foetus. The meeting with the Secretary of State some time in the Autumn will be the time when evidence is shown to the government who knew of the dangers to the foetus over fifty years ago. This neglect to victims of Primodos is similair to the victims of DES in the drugs companies oestrogen dominance race to make vast fortunes of wealth in the oral contraceptive pill. Yasmin Querishi MP and our Solicitor Peter Todd have highlighted that Primodos is going to be the biggest Legal and Medical cover up of the 21st century. Thank goodness we have such strong support to include the many medical professionals, and people like Gwen Lyons of CHEMtrust, to help us to fight on for justice.

      1. If Primodos reaches its goal for justice to the unborn baby with its mutiple research documents to expose this saga, then perhaps this will open up the can of worms surrounding the horrors to the foetus in all synethic oestrogen drugs given to women!

  5. Valerie, I tried emailing you a couple of months ago, using an email address I found on the following webpage.

    Your story and that of the other Primodos victims really touched me, and I was wondering if there’s any way all of us who’ve had our lives blighted by medical hormone use in pregnancy could find some way of working together to make the public aware of the terrible harm these substances can cause to an unborn child.

    DES and Primodos aren’t used any more, but I think a great injustice has been committed against those affected by them, many of whom are still alive and having to deal with the consequences of their exposure. Then there’s the fact that artificial steroid hormones (progestins and corticosteroids in particular) are still frequently used in pregnancy, often in quite high doses. Are these drugs safe? One would hope so, but given the lack of honesty about past hormone disasters, how confident can we be that the ones in current use aren’t harming unborn babies?

    Babies are still being born with VACTERL syndrome, and there’s been an explosion in cases of all sorts of chronic debilitating conditions including autism, endocrine disorders, autoimmune disorders and fertility problems. These are all conditions that I’ve seen linked to prenatal exposure to DES or first generation progestins, and it makes me think that the medical hormones in current use might be causing many of the same problems that their predecessors did!

    P.S. Do you know Karl Murphy, or anything about this organisation ?

  6. Karl Murphy has not been part of the Primodos campaign. He suddenly resigned from the association wiithin a cloud of suspicion since summer, taking his own campaign with the help of another Solicitor. The association for children damaged by hormone pregnancy tests has the full support of Yasmin Querishi MP who is committed for justice to the victims of Primodos and all hormone pregnancy tests. Any victims or parents of a child damaged by Primodos can become a member of the association.

  7. Since the information above was published, I contacted Hugh and arranged for him at attend our A.G.M on 5th July, 2014. It was wonderful to meet with Hugh and I am sure he found a great deal of comfort in meeting with members and finding that there were similarities in the way we have all been affected. DES Daughter, you are doing a wonderful job in bringing these issues to the attention of the media. Well done.
    Marie Lyon. Chair/Ass. for children damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests.

  8. This coming Thursday 23rd October 14 the debate in the Houses of Parliament will now take place. Iniatiated by Yasmin Querishi MP it will be very important debate for the victims of Primodos hopefully, an Independent Inquiry on the cover up and truth on Primodos will reveal startling facts, hidden from public view for many years.
    I am just finishing emailing 650 Members of Parliament to alert them to the debate and of course to support the victims of Primodos by attending the debate with the outcome that we as familes of Primodos have waited for nearly fifty years to hear the truth. I urge everyone to contact the local MP by writing or emailing to them to to support the campaign for Primodos. Today one of the members rang to ask if I would like to take part in a live radio broadcast with him which I was happy to participate. Maybe this can be done by DES vicitms as I really do think it is an opportunity to reach areas of the public at a local leval. MP;s email addresses can be located at the House of Commons website. It takes time but I feel it was well worth the effort for the Primdos campaign.

    1. Thanks for this information Valerie. We wish you all the best with this campaign and the upcoming debate in the Houses of Parliament on Thursday. Let us know if we can help in any way by sharing the outcome of the debate. We will check out the House of Commons website re: MEPs email addresses but we have very limited time and resources to launch a DES campaign targeting MEPs. Something I agree we should consider when we expand and evolve as a formal charity though. Currently, we’re a team of two doing our utmost to raise awareness of DES and other prescription drug scandals. We both have full time jobs so taking the next steps towards a full targeted campaign would be difficult but thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and experience.

      1. Thank you for your comment and yes I agree you do need time to campaign in earnest. For myself I am retired so it is much easier for me to spare the time to campaign which I would like to think that I utilise my time to also exercise my ageing years.
        You are amazing to even find the time to campaign for the DES victims which I hope that you will be able to increase staffing levels.

  9. I must confess that I was not aware of your campaign until I caught the tale end of a BBC news item and immediately it resonated with me because I too had been given the drug Primodos in 1966. My daughter was born in November 1966 with a severe heart abnormality which I believe could have been caused by me taking this drug. I was never told anything about this drug at the time, only that it would determine whether I was pregnant or not. I was never asked whether I had taken anything that might have caused my baby to be born with such severe heart problems and to be honest I did not know what the drug was called until I saw the news report recently. I just thought I had given birth to a baby with a heart problem and did not link her condition to the pregnancy testing drug. It does, however, seem to be more than coincidental that I should have given birth to a baby with such a complicated abnormality after taking Primodos.

    1. Hi Marjorie, thanks for adding to the conversation regarding Primodos and its devastating side effects by sharing your story. Programmes like BBC Panorama play a critical role in raising public awareness of issues that are not widely spoken about. When we started our blog about the DES drug scandal we had no idea that there were so many other prescription drug scandals related to pregnancy – Thalidomide, Primodos, DES, … they all have in common that the victims have been left completely uninformed and the wall of silence seems unbreakable. Our network aims to bring these scandals to light and bring victims and campaigners together to break this wall of silence. Together we’re stronger. Thanks again for posting a comment on our blog.

      1. Thank you for responding to my blog. I am attending a meeting of the Association in Birmingham next month with my daughter and I am looking forward to hearing about the progress that has been made in our fight for justice for our children. Strangely, my medical records have mysteriously disappeared relating to my daughter although my other pregnancies are all in my notes. Apparently I am not alone as there are other mums who’s medical records are also missing which would seem to signify that there is perhaps something to hide. We are all determined to see this through as we are disgusted with the conduct of these drug companies and possibly others who are or have been complicit in a potential cover up.

  10. You continue to raise the awareness of the Public regarding the issues of drug use during pregnancy and I commend you for your tireless work in this area. It is so easy to forget that the DES and Hormone Pregnancy victims are still fighting for justice. Thank you. FYI: The Inquiry Panel has now appointed a Chair to scrutinise the evidence we have relating to Hormone Pregnancy Tests and I will be meeting with them mid March to discuss the panel members. I will keep you informed. Warm regards, Marie Lyon/Chair/Association for children damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests

  11. In 1976 I began my campaign onPrimodos after being prescribed Primodos for the second time in 1976 for lack of menstrual periods. Finding the warning notice on this drug was more than sufficient enough to discover why there was now a warning whereas in 1974 when I took Primodos to diagnose my pregnancy there was no warning. My campaign began in earnest to discover the truth with the help of Journalists and tv documentaries bringing in more parents who had taken Primodos with eventually the help of the late Jack Ashley MP, to form the Assoc for Children Damaged by HPtest. which took place at the House of Commons. As a founder member and Chairman of this organisation, the campaign was well recieved by the press and media the world over, alerting even more families affected by Primodos. The hormone pregnancy test exsisted in many country’s but labelled under a different name which means if the Primodos victims are successful in this country, the expanse of victims throughout the globe would have a deprimental
    effect on the trust of governments and drug company’s, who have remained silenced to protect their own integrity at the expense of the suffering to human lives. We failed in the eightes due to the UK Government and drug company’s being the ‘Goliath against the Davids ‘ with their power to supress all those who challenged them for the truth for the suffering of their babies. Thirty eight years later with much research against the powers of control who believe they still can deny victims and families of Primodos the right to know what really happened within their dens of corruption, lies, lack of humanity and justice.
    Even spending five days at government archives at Kew in 2011, two days in 2012 then again for three days in 2014, finding original letters from drug company’s to our Com.Safety & Med warning of the dangers of prescribing Primodos as a pregnancy test with letters from the medical professionals expressing their concerns. The warning notice from Schering’s Rat Trials in 1969 revealed mutiple abortions in their trials with the added warning from the French Drug company, Roussel’s Ammenorone Forte, in 1963 was not enough to convince our government to protect its citizens. We as victims of these drugs were mutilated or even going through the throes of death, are still waiting for the justice we so richly deserve.
    The Inquiry if successful to our cause will hopefully, expose the whole truth on synthetic hormones for over sixty years to include the victims of DES prescribed to women to prevent a misscarriarge with the outcome that unborn babies subjected to DES, are now experiencing various cancers to either sex. This was unknown 35 years or more ago with the continous suffering for generations to come of the trauma from drug company’s and those in governments, who instead remained immoral of their duties to human life.

    1. Thanks Valerie – we’re so glad that our blog is helping raise awareness of these important issues and contributes to bringing people who share the same mission for justice together. Keep up the good fight!

  12. Most USA girls and guys are now Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual because their mothers used Birth Control Pills (Synthetic Estrogen).

    I am the owner of this my website and I plan on getting Birth Control Pills banned world wide.

    Birth Control Pills are very often causing children to be born Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual.

    Everyone should read the facts on my website.

    There is a visible “Chemical Look” in peoples faces and eyes if their mother used Birth control Pills (Synthetic Estrogen).

    In the United States (and even around the world) there has been a huge surge in the number of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people.

    It’s not a matter of more people “coming out”, it’s a matter of more people being born that way.

    Before people are born they are subjected to a 9 month developmental period in their mothers wombs. This is where it gets interesting.

    3% of people have always been born Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual throughout human history.

    The reason for that is because their mothers natural estrogen hormones were off balance during pregnancy.

    The most common reason for 3% of people being born that way is because of stress during their mothers pregnancy.

    If a woman experiences lots of stress during her pregnancy, her natural estrogen hormones become off balance.

    When her natural estrogen hormones become off balance during pregnancy, it alters the childs brain development.

    Synthetic Estrogen from Birth Control Pills is emulating that natural process! Synthetic Estrogen drastically alters childrens development in the womb.

    The Synthetic Estrogen Hormones from Birth Control Pills stays in women’s bodies for up to 2 years (or longer) from the time they stop using them.

    Most women still have the synthetic estrogen in their bodies during pregnancy!

    The factor in determining if a “Birth Control Child” will be born Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Straight is

    1. How many years did said woman use Birth Control Pills.

    The amount of years a woman uses the pills accounts for how long (number of months) the synthetic estrogen will stay in her body after she stops using the pills.

    2. How many days or weeks or months or years did said woman wait to get pregnant after she stopped taking the pills.

    How long the mother waits determines if the child will be born Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Straight.

    DES (diethylstilbestrol) 1938-1971, (now banned)
    Diethylstilbestrol pills (synthetic estrogen) caused many children to be born Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual in the past.

    Primodos 1959-1978, (now banned)
    Primodos pills (synthetic estrogen) caused many children to be born Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual in the past.

    The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) has documented that prenatal DES exposure in males is positively linked to a condition known as hypogonadism (low testosterone levels) that may require treatment with testosterone replacement therapy.”

    Here is a great article about DES affecting children in utero written by a Medical Doctor and DES son Dana Beyer.

    The following is a quote by Daniel Sheehan, PhD, retired senior toxicologist at the US Food and Drug Administration’s National Center for Toxicological Research and Director of Estrogen Base Program.

    Development is recognized as the most sensitive life stage for estrogen toxicity because of the indisputable evidence of a very wide variety of frank malformations and serious functional deficits in experimental animals and humans

    Researchers Daniel Sheehan and Daniel Doerge, two of the Food and Drug Administration’s experts on Soy, wrote a letter of protest to try and stop the FDA approval of soy as a supposed health benefit. (Soy is Synthetic Estrogen).

    Birth Control Pills are one of the worlds biggest pharmaceutical disasters.

    Most USA college students (born in the USA) are Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual.
    Synthetic Estrogen is flipping children’s brain development in utero.

    Since 1960 this has been happening with Birth Control Pills.

    In 1963 – 1 in 13 American women used the pills.
    In 1973 – 1 in 3 American women used the pills.
    In 1993 – most American women used the pills.

    It’s extremely obvious why most college students are Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual these days. Look at the timeline of how many mothers used the pills in the 1990’s.

    As I said earlier, there is a visible “Chemical Look” in peoples faces and eyes if their mothers used Birth Control Pills.

    I can look at anyone and instantly tell if their mothers used Birth Control Pills.

    Eastern European countries and Central/South American countries are some of the last countries were Birth Control Pill use is much lower than westernized countries.

    My website has indisputable proof that Birth Control Pills are causing children to be born Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual.

    Girls should NOT use Birth Control Pills!

  13. There was a successful case in America regarding a HPT named Gestest. The lawyer was Gerry Spence, and he writes about the case in his book ‘Gunning for Justice’. The child in question ‘Jody Bonnie’ and his parents won an undisclosed sum of over 7 figures on the understanding that the lawyers handed over all their research and evidence. I have a copy of this book.

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