Submitted by Shelby D Burns Wed 02/16/2011
Tall couple In the 1950s young women who showed signs of becoming extremely tall were often given high dosages of estrogen to stunt their growth. Those girls, now women, are experiencing infertility at a higher rate than women not exposed to such serious intervention. And while the practice isn’t discussed much today, it still goes on. Since these findings are new, it’s important that the word get out. According to Dr. Emile Hendriks, the lead author of the study from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the importance of reduced fertility may outweigh the benefit of reduced height. “Women were basically supposed to get married and have children, and that would be harder if you were a very tall woman, everybody believed,” Christine Cosgrove, co-author of Normal at Any Cost: Tall Girls, Short Boys and the Medical Industry’s Quest to Manipulate Height. “There were so many parents, mostly mothers probably, who just feared that their daughters’ lives would be ruined if they ended up being six feet tall, because they’d never have a husband and a family,” she said. Today, when estrogen is used to suppress growth, it is in about the dosage of a birth control pill. In the 1950 it was 100 times that. In this study, 82% of women who used the estrogen treatment had difficulty conceiving, while their naturally tall counterparts had a 95% success rate. There is no long term data yet on hormone usage to increase height.