Impact of prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) on psychological outcome: a national survey of DES daughters and unexposed controls

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2017 Jun;20(3):389-395. doi: 10.1007/s00737-016-0711-8. Epub 2017 Jan 7.


To explore whether prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) is associated with increased risk of poor psychological outcome independently of the occurrence of major somatic complications related to DES exposure. Data on health outcome were collected in women prenatally exposed to DES (n = 2566) and unexposed women (n = 2967) recruited in a French national survey. Women prenatally exposed to DES were 1.7 times more likely to have consulted a mental health specialist compared to unexposed women (adjusted odds ratio = 1.69, 95% confidence interval 1.47-1.96), independently of demographic characteristics, poor gynecological or obstetrical outcome, or history of cancer. Frequency of consultation with a mental health specialist in persons with a history of gynecological complications or cancer was comparable in women prenatally exposed to DES and unexposed women. Findings regarding psychological outcome obtained in the high-risk group of women prenatally exposed to DES may contribute to improving identification of psychological needs of all women presenting with gynecological abnormalities.

Keywords: Diethylstilbestrol; Gynecological complications; Prenatal exposure; Psychological outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diethylstilbestrol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Family / psychology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Diethylstilbestrol