The FDA has recently come out with a warning for women using depakote and depakene, which are generic names for valproic acid and valproate. These drugs, which were first approved in 1978 to treat epilepsy, are now being used to treat migraines and bipolar disorder in both men and women. But according to the FDA, women who have taken these drugs while pregnant have a higher risk of giving birth to a baby with birth defects than women who take alternative forms of medication.
According to the article,
Women of childbearing potential should only use valproate if it is essential to manage their medical condition. Those who are not actively planning a pregnancy should use effective contraception, as birth defect risks are particularly high during the first trimester, before many women know they are pregnant.
Using valproate during pregnancy increases the chance of having a baby with a birth defect. Neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, are the birth defects most often seen with valproate use in early pregnancy.These defects of the brain and spinal cord occur when the developing spinal canal does not close normally.
For this reason, a woman of childbearing potential should generally not take valproate unless it is considered essential for her treatment. Women of childbearing potential are women who have passed puberty and have not passed through menopause and have not had their uterus or ovaries removed.
The risk of a child getting spina bifida from a mother who took these medications while pregnant is 1-2%. That’s one out of every one hundred children. In the population at large the odds of a child being born with spina bifida are about 1 in 1000.
Women who take Depakote or Depakene to control bi-polar disorder or another ailment should be very conciencious of the harm that can be caused to the fetus if they were to be come pregnant. Women taking these medications should consult thier physician if they plan to be come pregnant.
The defects that can be caused by the use of these medications are serious, and should not be taken lightly. While birth defects can happen even when you do everything right, the use of dangerous medications like Depakote greatly increases the risk of a child being born with a birth defect.
If you or loved one took depakote or depakene while pregnant and as a result have given birth to a child with spina bifida or another birth defect the birth defect attorneys at Reich & Binstock can help.