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DES Awareness Week :: Ask your Mum

01 June 2011

While this post is a departure from what I normally blog about, the topic of DES awareness is something that's close to my heart, and it's a message that needs to be heard. Today marks the beginning of DES Awareness Week, so I am speaking out.

Were you born between 1940 and 1971? If so your mother may have been prescribed DES during her pregnancy and as a result your health - and hers - may be compromised. If you have been exposed to DES (as either a mother or a child) you have an increased risk of developing certain cancers (breast, cervical and vaginal), and also reproductive problems. Males exposed in-utero to DES are also at risk of developing urogenital conditions.

I am a DES daughter.
My mother, like many others, was prescribed DES during her pregnancies to prevent miscarriage. I am infertile. I have regular specialised checks for early detection of possible cancer. I am telling you this because there are up to 740,000 Australians affected by this drug disaster, potentially 5 to 10 million in the USA, and many, many more throughout the world. Most of those people are unaware of their exposure. Governments and pharmaceutical companies don't want to know about it. There continues to be a conspiracy of silence surrounding DES... but there are groups of people around the world working hard to educate and be heard.

American screenwriter and DES advocate Caitlin McCarthy found out about her exposure in 2005 and she has a feature film entitled "Wonder Drug" currently in production. You can see Caitlin speaking about DES here (you just have to get past the ad!).

So... talk to your mother and find out if she suffered a miscarriage or pregnancy complications and was prescribed hormones or stiboestrol (another name for DES) during subsequent pregnancies. Although DES was also often given to ensure a 'healthy pregnancy' even if there were no complications. (It has since been proven that DES actually had no positive benefits at all.) If you can't ask your mum your own health history may offer clues. Do some research. Have a specialist check up.

In Australia there is a group called DES Action which has a blog with information and a listing of DES-knowledgable healthcare providers. Carol Devine runs DES Action Australia and works tirelessly for the cause. There are action groups all over the world - if you can't find one in your country I'm sure Carol can help you locate one. You can find DES Action USA here with a wealth of information.

This is a great post to read on The Huffington Post: One of America's Deepest, Darkest Family Secrets: The DES Drug Disaster

Ask your mum. Spread the word. Don't let the cover up continue.