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Horm Behav. 1989 Dec;23(4):526-41.

The development of gender-related behavior in females following prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES).

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New York State Psychiatric Institute, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York 10032.


Animal research has shown that diethylstilbestrol (DES) present during the sensitive developmental periods of the hypothalamus and adjacent areas of the brain affects the development of sex-dimorphic brain structures and subsequent behavior. To test for corresponding behavioral effects in humans, 30 women with a history of prenatal DES exposure were contrasted with 30 unexposed women who had been referred to the same clinic for a colposcopic examination because of an abnormal Pap smear. Gender-role behavior of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood was assessed by means of a semistructured interview, the Gender Role Assessment Schedule-Adult, and the Bem Sex Role Inventory. The mothers of these women were interviewed about their daughters with the "mother form" of the same interview schedule. The results suggest that DES women show less orientation toward parenting than the controls. There were no consistent group differences in other domains of gender-role behavior.

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