For the women who were prescribed this synthetic estrogen, they were at higher risk of breast cancer.
As for the children of these women. The are a few more health concerns. For the daughters there is an increased risk of Clear cell adenocarcinoma (CCA). A rare kind of vaginal and cervical cancer. Although there have been cases where the women were in their 30s or 40s, the cancer seems more prominent for women in their teens and early 20s. DES daughters tend to have structural differences with their reproductive tract.
They are also at risk for infertility, pregnancy complications and pre-term labor.
DES sons run almost the same complications. These include infertility, genital abnormalities and non-cancerous cysts on the testicles.
DES related infertility is likely because of the malformations of the uterus and fallopian tubes. Some abnormalities include a T shaped uterus and a hood on the cervix.
This doesn’t mean that everyone exposed to the DES drug will be infertile. There is still a chance of pregnancy. If you are planning to or are pregnant and you know that you were subject to the drug, let your doctor know. Many of the risk factors are preventable or at least treatable. You’ll likely be labeled a high-risk pregnancy and monitored closely for any complications during the pregnancy.
If you are a third generation DES baby, there is no cause for alarm. Although studies are being performed, there doesn’t seem to be any risk for third generation.
Don’t be discouraged if you are a DES daughter. Women who weren’t exposed to DES are sometimes infertile and they go on to have a plentiful family. Talk with your doctor and explore your options.