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Teratology. 1980 Dec;22(3):251-70.

Congenital abnormalities and hormones during pregnancy: a clinical review.


A review of the extensive literature on the subject indicates that sex hormones have been associated with a wide variety of adverse clinical conditions following usage during pregnancy. About 230 cases of female pseudohermaphroditism have been reported following use of hormones with androgenic potency, but masculinization observed with estrogens in a few females may represent only adrenal-stimulated pseudohermaphroditism. Feminization of males, mostly by progestogens in some 45 cases, is unproven at present. Realizing the limitations of the published studies when all present data are considered, there seems no justification for undue concern over the induction of nongenital congenital malformations through hormone use in pregnancy. The available data on the association to cardiac, limb, and CNS defects, and to several malformative syndromes, are not convincing: the effects appear to be remarkably nonspecific, the studies are contradicted by a large number of negative reports, and an increased incidence of defects with increased usage has not materialized. A possible exception are the CNS malformations associated with the use of the antifertility agent clomiphene, and careful surveillance is warranted at present. While a reasonable interpretation from this review would be that hormones present no major teratogenic hazard, elimination of hormonal exposure whenever possible during pregnancy is suggested.

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