Distilbène: havoc over 3 generations

After children, grandchildren ... The toxic effects of distilbene are transgenerational. A study has revealed that the grandchildren of women taking this hormone have an increased risk of genital malformations. Professor Charles Sultan, head of the Pediatric Endocrinology Unit at Montpellier University Hospital, led this study. He is answering our questions. (News of the 07/04/11)

How were you led to conduct this study proving the deleterious effects of Distilbene over several generations?

  • My pediatric endocrinology unit participated in a European study the impact of endocrine disruptors on abnormalities of sexual differentiation. We found a recrudescence of hypospadias, a malformation of the penis and the urethra. We looked at it and looked for the causes of this increase, eliminating the genetic factors. The survey conducted over 4 years and 530 families has shown that the prevalence of hypospadias is 50 times higher in "grandchildren Distilbène".

Are the deleterious consequences of DES equally serious for third-generation children?

  • Unfortunately, this study proves that the consequences are worse for the grandchildren of the "grandmothers Distilbène", even if for the moment the results concern only the little boys. The normal prevalence of genital abnormalities is in the order of 0.1%. For the children of women taking Distilbene, the prevalence was 3.5%. It climbs to 8.2% for small children ...

More than 30 years after its ban, the DES continues to do damage. Should we fear a generation of "great-grandchildren Distilbene"?

  • If today nothing is proven for man, in animals, it exists. There is a 4th generation of "Distilbene rat". Even if it's not the point, I can say I'm pretty scared to dare to transpose that to the man.

Interview by Frédérique Odasso