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Depakote During Pregnancy

Depakote lawsuits are being filed against Abbott to help victims of alleged Depakote birth defects receive lifetime care.

Millions of Americans suffer from epileptic seizures and other seizure-related disorders every year. Epilepsy can be an extremely debilitating disorder, as seizures can disturb brain function and cause changes in behavior and attention resulting from abnormally excited signals in the brain. Although many people struggling with seizures can prevent or reduce the frequency of seizures, others may experience seizures as a lifelong condition, which can cause learning difficulties, brain damage and even death.

In order to treat epilepsy and other seizure-related disorders, many individuals are prescribed anticonvulsant medications like Depakote. These drugs have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they have proven themselves to be effective in managing the seizures associated with epilepsy and other medical disorders. Unfortunately, recent years have produced a number of individuals who experienced adverse side effects of Depakote, particularly women who took Depakote while pregnant and subsequently gave birth to children with one or more major birth defects. In support of these human experiences, recent studies have identified a potential scientific link between Depakote use during pregnancy and the development of severe birth defects in infants who were exposed to the drugs in utero.


Depakote Described

Depakote is a prescription anticonvulsant medication which has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of epilepsy, migraine headaches, seizures, and as a mood stabilizer for individuals suffering from bipolar disorder. Depakote is made up of sodium valproate and valproic acid, and the drug functions by slowing down the firing of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, which can thereby decrease the frequency of seizure-related episodes. Depakote originally received FDA approval in 1983 and is currently manufactured by the pharmaceutical company, Abbott Laboratories. Since its introduction to the U.S. market, Depakote has become one of the most widely-prescribed anticonvulsant drugs available. In fact, it is estimated that 2.4 million prescriptions for Depakote have been filled since its inception.

Depakote and Birth Defect Studies

The FDA recently released an official statement warning patients and healthcare providers about the increased risk of major birth defects in infants whose mothers take Depakote while pregnant. The FDA notice included craniofacial abnormalities (defects of the face and skull), cardiovascular defects (abnormally formed heart and blood vessels), and neural tube birth defects (malformations of the brain and spinal cord).

"These birth injury cases are devastating...every family affected deserves help."

One of the most revealing Depakote birth defect studies was published in 2001 by the New England Journal of Medicine, in which researchers determined that anticonvulsant drugs are one of the most common causes of potential harm to a human fetus. The study indicated that infants born to women who took anticonvulsant drugs like Depakote during pregnancy were significantly more likely to be born with major birth defects compared to infants not exposed to the drugs in utero. These defects, which included hypoplasia of the midface, hypoplasia of the fingers, and growth retardation, among other malformations, affected 20.6% of infants whose mothers took one anticonvulsant drug while pregnant and 28% of infants exposed to more than one anticonvulsant drug, compared to only 8.5% of infants who were not exposed to any anticonvulsant drugs in utero. Additionally, researchers suggested that the frequency of birth defects among infants born to women with epilepsy is associated with the anticonvulsant drugs taken during pregnancy, rather than with the epilepsy itself.

According to a study published in the journal Neurology in 2005, women who took valproate, the active ingredient in Depakote, during the first trimester of pregnancy had a significantly increased risk of giving birth to infants with major birth defects. These birth defects included heart defects, spina bifida, and developmental delay, among other malformations. Furthermore, infants who were exposed to Depakote in utero were four times more likely to be born with birth defects than infants who were exposed to other anticonvulsant drugs during pregnancy.

Depakote and Birth Defects

According to recent research, Depakote may be associated with a number of severe birth defects in infants exposed to the drug during pregnancy. These birth defects include:

Potential Dangers of Depakote Use During Pregnancy

The FDA has labeled Depakote a pregnancy category D medication, which means the drug has the potential to cause significant harm to a human fetus when taken during pregnancy. The FDA has also required Abbott Laboratories to include a "black box" warning on Depakote's label which includes a warning about the teratogenicity of the drug, which is defined as a drug's potential to interfere with fetal development, causing fetal malformations. If you are currently taking Depakote and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician immediately. You should never stop taking a prescription medication without medical consent, as this may result in further adverse side effect. However, the FDA has advised physicians to avoid prescribing category D medications like Depakote to pregnant women unless the possible benefits of the drug justify the potential risks to the fetus.

Contact a Depakote Attorney for Help

The birth defects potentially associated with the use of Depakote may cause significant pain and suffering for an affected child, and some may even be fatal. If you or a loved one has suffered from a birth defect which you believe to be linked to the use of the anticonvulsant drug, Depakote, contact a Depakote attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds to file a Depakote lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories in order to seek financial compensation for your injuries, the medical expenses resulting from injury treatment, and the pain and suffering endured by you and your family. Depakote lawsuits and potential Depakote class action lawsuits also alert the public of the potential dangers associated with Depakote, which can help prevent future birth defects.

Victims of serious injuries potentially resulting from the use of a dangerous drug are not at fault. Drug manufacturing companies are responsible for producing safe and effective drugs, and should be held accountable for any adverse side effects sustained by consumers of their products. Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies withhold the potentially dangerous side effects of their medications from the public in order to avoid negative consequences, such as a recall. This leaves consumers unknowingly at risk of suffering severe side effects simply by taking prescription medications which they believe will help them, not harm them. The only way to ensure that your potential birth defect case is effectively and professionally represented is to contact a Depakote lawyer to discuss the benefits of filing a Depakote lawsuit.

Depakote Drug Info


Abbott Laboratories

Generic Equivalent:

Divalproex Sodium

Depakote Uses:

  • Epilepsy
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Migraine Headaches

FDA Approval:


Pregnancy Side Effects:

  • Cleft Palate
  • Facial Dysmorphism
  • Fetal Death
  • Fetal Valproate Syndrome
  • Growth Retardation
  • Hand Deformations
  • Heart Defects
  • Hydranencephaly
  • Hypoplasia
  • Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome
  • Iniencephaly
  • Neural Tube Birth Defects
  • Skeletal Defects
  • Spina Bifida

FDA Actions:

  • Pregnancy Category D
  • Black Box Warning Requirement

Tell Family And Friends

Spread the word so women are aware of the risks for both anticonvulsant birth defects and antidepressant birth defects and so families dealing with the hardship and expenses of lifetime care can get financial help from experienced class action attorneys. Learn more about Side Effects from prescription drugs.

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