Elevated odds for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the grandchildren of users of diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic estrogen commonly known as DES prescribed between 1938 and 1971 to prevent pregnancy complications, found study conducted by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The findings are published online in JAMA Pediatrics.
DES treatment for pregnant women was phased out after a 1953 study showed no benefit, and was banned in 1971 when DES was linked to vaginal adenocarcinomas in the daughters of women who had used DES during pregnancy. DES, which disrupts the body's endocrine system, was later also linked to multiple other reproductive problems in DES daughters. Although the exact number of pregnant women that used DES is unknown, in the U.S. it is estimated to be between 5-10 million. "Our aim was to explore the potential impact of DES use across generations, and specifically on third-generation neurodevelopment," said Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou, ScD, assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. "To date, and to our knowledge, no epidemiologic study has assessed multigenerational impacts of DES - or any other endocrine disruptors - on neurodevelopment."