Depakote (valproic acid) is a medication used to treat seizures and other neurological conditions. While the drug can be beneficial to some, it is highly recommended that pregnant women avoid taking the drug at all. Depakote use during pregnancy greatly increases the risk of several types of birth defects, according to several studies performed by European researchers. This development troubles experienced Kentucky injury attorneys who have helped families affected by medication-related birth defects.
The primary birth defects linked to Depakote use include:
- Spina bifida. An analysis of more than 98,000 pregnancies found that the risk of spina bifida in newborns was 12 times higher when the infant’s mother had taken Depakote during pregnancy. Spina bifida occurs when the neural tube does not form fully, leaving part of the spinal cord exposed instead of enclosed within the spinal column.
- Atrial septal defect. Atrial septal defect is a condition that affects one or more chambers of the heart. It can result in too little oxygen getting to the brain or organs, which can cause irreversible damage.
- Cleft palate. An infant with cleft palate has a gap or opening in the roof of the mouth. Normally, this gap is fused together during prenatal development.
- Craniosynostosis. Craniosynostosis occurs when the bones of the skull close too early, resulting in abnormal head growth. In some cases, pressure on the brain causes severe neurological or intellectual problems, and it may even be fatal.
- Polydactyly. Polydactyly is the condition of having more than five fingers on one or both hands. Researchers found polydactyly was more than five times as common in infants who had been exposed to Depakote during gestation.
Any of these can cause both immediate and long-term complications for an infant and parents who have had children suffer these difficulties have the right to hold at-fault companies responsible for their losses.