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November 18, 1974

Teratogenic Effects of Progestogen/Estrogen

JAMA. 1974;230(7):1019-1020. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240070053035

A few years ago, a flurry of reports noted the development of vaginal adenocarcinoma in adolescent girls and young women. In each case, the unusual cancer was linked circumstantially with administration of diethylstilbestrol to the patient's mother during a pregnancy considered to be at high risk because of bleeding or previous pregnancy loss. These facts duly received comment in an editorial in The Journal, "Maternal Diethylstilbestrol a Time Bomb for Child?" by Kathryn S. Huss, MD (218:1564, 1971).

In a forthcoming issue of Archives of Environmental Health, Nora and Nora1 present evidence that suggests a teratogenic effect of other hormonal agents administered to pregnant women during the vulnerable period of embryogenesis (15 to 60 days' gestation). The patterns of anomalies in the offspring led the authors to adopt the acronym VACTERL (Vertebral, Anal, Cardiac, Tracheoesophageal, Renal, Limb). The implicated hormones were either a progestogen/estrogen compound or a progestogen alone