Monday, 27 April 2009


There would be people residing in Australia who were DES exposed in overseas countries and in some of these countries, DES usage in pregnancy extended well beyond 1971. We also have reports of DES usage in pregnancy in Australia in the mid 1980s. Here is a listing of some countries involved: USA, Canada, Ireland, France (usage peaked 1976), UK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. Lately, our organisation has heard of cases in Philippines, Israel, Mexico, New Guinea, Malaysia, Kenya, Namibia, Nairobi, India (reported usage 1975), Indonesia, Egypt, Russia, Germany (1973) and Poland (as late as 1991).

At a 1992 symposium held in Sweden [J. Psychosom. Obstet. Gynaecol. 14 (1993) 71-89], concerns were raised that DES might still be given to pregnant women in many parts of the world, including East and Central Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Those present called for measures to alert medical professionals world-wide to the hazards of the use of DES, and requested measures to effect an international ban of DES in medication for pregnant women.

In the late 1990s our organisation DES Action Australia-NSW, upsettingly, received reports of current DES usage in pregnancy from overseas doctors who are employed or studying in Australia. In one scenario, our organisation was presenting a general talk to overseas doctors about the role and function of community support groups. Upon receiving information about the hazards of DES for the first time, a number of these doctors were understandably traumatised through their knowledge of the current practice of DES usage in pregnancy in their respective countries. The countries involved were Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

So far, our organisation has found no evidence of any actions addressing the very serious concerns raised at the 1992 Swedish symposium.

DES Action USA (International)
DES Action Canada
Reseau France
DES Action Ireland
DES Centrum, The Netherlands

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