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DES Info: What health problems might DES-exposed grandchildren have?

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Researchers are also studying possible health effects among women and men who are the children of DES daughters.

 

These groups are called DES granddaughters and DES grandsons, or the third generation. Researchers are studying these groups because studies in animal models suggest that DES may cause DNA changes (i.e., altered patterns of methylation) in mice exposed to the chemical during early development. These changes can be heritable and have the potential to affect subsequent generations.

 

A comparison of the results of DES granddaughters’ pelvic exams with those of their mothers’ first pelvic exams found none of the changes that had been associated with prenatal DES exposure in their mothers. However, another analysis showed that DES granddaughters began their menstrual periods later and were more likely to have menstrual irregularities than other women of the same age. The data also suggested that infertility was greater among DES granddaughters, and that they tended to have fewer live births. However, this association is based on small numbers of events and was not statistically significant. Researchers will continue to follow these women to study the risk of infertility.

 

Recent studies have found that DES granddaughters and DES grandsons may have a slightly higher risk of cancer  and birth defects including hypospadias in DES grandsons. However, because each of these associations is based on small numbers of events, researchers will continue to study these groups to clarify the findings.

 

The National Cancer Institute

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Karen M. Fernandes
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