That is extremely interesting! I’m not sure what we can do, though, but I agree with you that it should be made public knowledge.
Yes, it should be made public knowledge, but nobody seems to want to know! I tried writing to one of our national newspapers (who I thought might be sympathetic since they previously ran a story about DES daughters). They didn’t even have the courtesy to send me a reply. Probably they put my email in the same bin they use for stories about hoax moon landing conspiracies, and I think that’s been the same problem with everyone else I’ve tried contacting about it too. Artificial hormones are just about the most widely used and most profitable class of drugs there are in the entire field of medicine, and they’ve been in widespread use for more than 50 years. How could the fact that they can cause an unborn child to partially develop as the opposite sex have passed unnoticed for all this time?
The answer is, it hasn’t. Of course there are people who know. The trouble is, the problem doesn’t seem to have been spotted until the mid-1970s, and by that time there’d already been a colossal number of babies born with deformities of various kinds - probably in the millions.
In the US, it was mainly genital abnormalities among the DES sons, while here in Europe the problem was more thalidomide-type deformities (i.e. missing limbs, abnormalities of internal organs, and a condition called VACTERL syndrome), caused by hormone pregnancy tests.
“Hormone pregnancy tests” were the standard way of diagnosing pregnancy before urine test strips became available in Europe around 1975. Basically the test involved taking 1 or 2 tablets containing a high dose of the same hormones that are used in birth control pills. If the woman wasn’t pregnant, this would cause her period to start. If her period didn’t start, then she was pregnant (and now at risk of giving birth to a severely deformed baby!).
Generally these tests were done earlier than 6 weeks after conception (which is when sexually dimorphic development starts), so rather than causing intersexed development, they tended to affect limbs and major organs, since these develop very early in the pregnancy.
Here’s the story of a mother who was given one of these tests and whose son was born deformed as a result:
There’s very little else in the way of information about hormone pregnancy tests available online, even though hundreds of thousands of pregnant women were being given this test every year up until 1975 and a very large number of babies must have been born deformed as a result. It was a major scandal at the time here in the UK, with numerous newspaper articles, questions asked in parliament and at least one TV documentary produced (whose broadcast was blocked by court order). Nonetheless, there’s virtually no mention of any of that online, the whole thing has pretty much been erased from history!
There was a third pregnancy hormone disaster that seems to have converged with these other two, which at least does have a wikipedia entry:
(although the number of cases mentioned in the article is small, these drugs were in widespread use and the wiki article must be massively understating the true numbers affected).
Progestins are a class of hormones which are supposed to mimic the action of the female hormone progesterone, but the early versions of these drugs also mimicked the action of the male hormone testosterone at the same time, sufficiently well to result in a lot of baby girls exposed to them before birth developing intersexed or male genitals (and presumably experiencing male brain development too, though they don’t talk about that in the wikipedia article!).
In short, there seems to have been a sudden realisation around 1975 or so, that literally millions of babies had been born with deformities of various kinds during the preceding 3 decades because their mothers had been given artificial hormones of various kinds during the first trimester of pregnancy.
The thalidomide disaster with just 10,000 victims cost the pharmaceutical industry and medical establishment billions in lawsuits. What were they going to do with another birth defects disaster with 100 times as many victims? They must have taken one look at the numbers and decided their only option was to pretend the whole thing never happened. That’s how I see it anyway.
Presumably they were in a bit of a panic at the time, because they don’t seem to have properly understood that many of the deformities they were seeing were actually the result of intersexed development rather than just being regular birth defects. Instead of prohibiting the use of hormonal drugs during pregnancy outright, the prescribing guidelines were changed to stop them being used during the first trimester (which is when the development of the genitals and reproductive organs takes place). There were and are no restrictions on the use of hormonal medicines during the later stages of the pregnancy, which is when sexually dimorphic brain development takes place. The result, as far as I can see, is that there must be a large number of people (well into the millions) alive today whose body matches their genetic sex, but whose brain is partly or completely that of the opposite sex, all thanks to medication their mother was given during pregnancy. It’s mostly genetically male people at risk, but some of these drugs can mimic the action of testosterone and thus cause male development in an otherwise female baby, so genetically female people are at risk too.
Based on what I’ve seen over the last year, there definitely is a problem with testicular damage, infertility, physical intersex conditions and female gender identity among the DES sons. There are between 2 and 3 million of them worldwide, and yet they’ve remained completely off the radar as far as the public is concerned for more than 40 years. If that number of people can be hidden away for that length of time, how many more could be affected by other pregnancy hormones?