What Is Depakote?
The drug Depakote (sometimes called divalproex sodium or valproate semisodium) is used for the treatment of manic episodes of bipolar disorder and epilepsy. The side effects of Depakote are claimed to be numerous and they include spina bifida. This has lead to a number of Depakote lawsuits which includes a Depakote lawsuit class action in the United Kingdom.
Because of the risk of Depakote birth defects, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has classified the drug into pregnancy category D.
Depakote And Preganancy
The most dangerous side effects of the drug are in the potential damage to the unborn fetus. There is risk to pregnant women, women likely to become pregnant or those that are nursing. Taking Depakote during pregnancy can cause any of the following:
- Death of the fetus
- Spina Bifida (where the spinal column fails to completely enclose the spinal cord)
- Cleft palate
- Malformations of the hands
- Testes that do not descend
- Dysplastic ribs (the ribs are abnormally developed)
- Hypsoplastic right heart (the right side of the heart is undeveloped)
- Hypospadia (the urethra opening in male babies is in the wrong place)
Using Depakote in pregnancy has been associated with a number of birth defects. This is more likely if the drug is taken in the first trimester. There is a 1-2% risk of Spina Bifida occurring in the babies of mother’s that took valproic acid when they were pregnant. A study showed that if the mother’s took valproic acid during their first trimester it was 12.7 times more likely that their babies would develop Spina Bifida than babies of mothers who had not taken it.
Studies Of Depakote Side Effects
Five hospitals in the Boston area conducted a study over 7 years analyzing over thousand single births. It concluded that 20% of babies had major birth defects where the mother had taken anticonvulsant drugs (including Depakote) when they were pregnant. If more than one anticonvulsant drug was taken by the mother while pregnant then they were 24% more likely to experience fetal trauma. The most common birth defect found in the studies was Spina Bifida. This was particularly prevelant in mothers that had taken both the Depakote and carbamazepine drugs often to control mood swings.
A smaller study in the United Kingdom advised that women who take valporate during pregnancy were facing an increased risk of their babies being born with autism and other neurodevelopment issues. It also stated that the damage to the baby was more likely to occur during the pregnancy early stages. The study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry on the January 30, 2013.
There have been numerous warnings from health professionals about the risk of Depakote birth defects for at least ten years. The New England Journal Of Medicine reported in April 2001 that the frequency of birth defects including growth retardation, hypolasia of the midface and fingers and other major malformations increased in babies whose mothers took anticonvulsant drugs during pregnancy.
Depakote should be the last medicine to be considered when prescribing antiepileptic drugs for women who are pregnant, the Neurodevelopment Effects of Antiepileptic Drugs study group concluded. On August 8, 2006 Neurology stated that major fetal malformations and even fetal deaths were more commonly found iwith pregnant women who were taking Depakote compared to alternative antiepileptic medicines.
Pregnant women who suffer from bipolar need to take these studies seriously. Some of the drugs for epilepsy tested in these studies can also be taken to stabilize moods and for migraine headaches so they need to be aware of the potential Depakote side effects.
Depakote Lawsuits And Depakote Lawyers
If you have had a child that has suffered from the side effects of taking Depakote which include a cleft palate, Spina Bifida or any other kind of malformation then contact highly experienced Depakote attorneys here so they can assess your case.
You may be eligible for compensation if you or a member of your family have taken Depakote and have then had a child who has suffered from birth defects. Contact a highly competent Depakote lawyer here.