Hypospadias could be more common among boys born to mothers who were prenatally exposed to the synthetic hormone diethylstilbestrol. The drug was withdrawn from the market in 1975.
This has been found by Dr Flora Van Leeuwen and colleagues at The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam. The investigators aimed to establish the risk of hypospadias–a birth defect where the urethral opening occurs on the underside of the penis or the scrotum– in sons of women who were prenatally exposed to DES.
Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was widely prescribed to pregnant women between 1938 and 1975 for treatment of imminent and habitual abortions. It was withdrawn when studies found a strongly increased risk of vaginal and cervical clear-cell adenocarcinoma in women exposed to DES in utero. In addition, the daughters of women who took DES had a high frequency of reproductive tract abnormalities that were linked with fertility problems