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January 17, 1977

Psychological Effects of Diethylstilbestrol Exposure

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Genesee Hospital, Rochester, NY (Dr Schwartz), and the Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY (Ms Stewart).

JAMA. 1977;237(3):252-254. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270300056007

. The psychological response of daughters and their mothers to discovery of in utero diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure was studied. At the DES Colposcopy Clinic, 41 daughters and 20 mothers were extensively interviewed. Twelve patients with abnormal cytology tests were controls. Initial anxiety was usually followed by acceptance of the condition after examination and counseling. Patients responded best when informed of their problem by their mothers and when the relationship between mother and daughter was good. The majority of patients found colposcopy to be unpleasant; they tended to be disturbed in proportion to the degree of being upset about DES exposure. The most common problem among mothers was guilt. A questionnaire survey of physicians showed that they had less concern for psychological problems than patients or mothers did. Sensitivity and good communication on the part of medical personnel are recommended.

(JAMA 237:252-254, 1977)