The Danger for Sons

Examines daughters of women who took DES during pregnancy are at increased risk for vaginal cancer. Depression experienced by sons of mothers who took DES.

By Carol Potera, published on July 1, 1996 - last reviewed on June 19, 2012

DES

Daughters of women who took DES during pregnancy are at increased risk for vaginal cancer. But what about sons whose mothers took the antimiscarriage drag from the 1940s to 1970s?

Instead of cancer, these men have a higher rate of depression, says Richard Pillard, M.D., a psychiatrist at Boston University School of Medicine. Pillard and colleagues rounded up 27 pairs of brothers whose others had taken DES during one pregnancy but not the other. The DES-exposed brothers were diagnosed with depression twice as often as their unexposed brothers.