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Article
April 9, 1982

DES: The Complete Story

Author Affiliations

University of California San Francisco

 

by Cynthia Laitman Orenberg, 209 pp, $11.95, New York, St Martin's Press Inc, 1981.

JAMA. 1982;247(14):2027. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320390085060

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Abstract

Mrs Orenberg, a medical editor and writer for the University of Wisconsin Medical School, has written a treatise on the effects of diethylstilbestrol (DES) from the perspective of a mother whose daughter was exposed in utero to this drug. In 200 pages, she relates in lay terms essentially what is considered to be current knowledge regarding the development of DES, the first inexpensive, orally effective estrogenic substance; the clinical trials carried out by the Smiths in the 1940s regarding its usefulness in certain complications of pregnancy; its subsequent widespread use in several million pregnant women; the controlled double-blind studies that eventually demonstrated it to be no more effective than a placebo; the study in Boston by Herbst, Ulfelder, Scully, and Poskanzer that related exposure in utero to this drug to the development of a rare clear-cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina in several young women; and the subsequent establishment of a

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