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Depakote Birth Defects

Depakote (also known as valproate semisodium or divalproex sodium) is a popular drug used to treat epilepsy and manic episodes of bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, there are many Depakote side effects associated with the anti-convulsant such as spina bifida that have resulted in Depakote lawsuits, including a class action lawsuit in the UK. The Food and Drug Administration classified Depakote into pregnancy category D due to its likelihood of causing serious and potentially life-threatening birth defects.


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Depakote Side Effects

The most dangerous Depakote side effects involve damage to the unborn fetus. Consequently, women who are pregnant, likely to become pregnant, or are nursing should not take Depakote because it can cause the following conditions:

Depakote and Birth Defects:

The most dangerous side effects of Depakote involve damage to an unborn fetus. These side effects include:
  • Cleft palate
  • Hypoplastic right heart ( a condition that results in an underdeveloped right side of the heart)
  • Undescended testes
  • Hand malformations
  • Dysplastic (abnormally developed) ribs
  • Hypospadia (a condition in male babies that causes the opening of the urethra to occur in the wrong place)
  • Spina Bifida (a condition that results in the spinal column failing to completely enclose the spinal cord.
  • Fetal death

Spina Bifida
The most serious side effects of Depakote involve birth defects. The use of valproic acid during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, has been associated with a number of fetal abnormalities. Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the spinal cord and backbone fail to develop or close properly. The risk of spina bifida in the offspring of mothers taking valproic acid during pregnancy is 1 percent – 2 percent. A recent study found that babies subjected to their mothers' use of valproic acid during the first trimester were 12.7 times more likely to have spina bifida compared to babies whose mothers did not take the drug.

Depakote Studies

A study conducted over a period of seven years at five Boston area hospitals, involving more than 1,000 single births, determined that more than 20 percent of infants whose mothers had taken an anticonvulsant during pregnancy—including Depakote--had major birth defects. Babies born to mothers who had taken more than one anticonvulsant during their pregnancy were 24 percent more likely to have fetal trauma, while underdosed women only suffered 9.1 percent likelihood of birth defects.

depakoteThe study found that spina bifida, a serious condition where the back of the spine is left open, endangering the spinal cord, was the most common birth defect found when mothers had taken both carbamazepine and valproic acid (Depakote), two drugs frequently used as mood stabilizers.

Meanwhile, a small British study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry (1/30/13), suggests women who take valproate while pregnant have an increased risk of having children with autism and neurodevelopment problems. Furthermore, the study suggests that damage to the fetus happens during the early stages of pregnancy.

Health professionals have warned about Depakote side effects for almost a decade. In April 2001 the New England Journal of Medicine. reported that the frequency of major malformations, growth retardation, and hypoplasia of the midface and fingers, known as anticonvulsant embryopathy, is increased in infants exposed to anticonvulsant drugs in utero. "A distinctive pattern of physical abnormalities in infants of mothers with epilepsy is associated with the use of anticonvulsant drugs during pregnancy, rather than with epilepsy itself," the study concluded.

The Neurodevelopmental Effects of Antiepileptic Drugs study group reported that Depakote (valproate) should be "at the bottom of the list" when prescribing antiepileptic drugs for pregnant women with epilepsy. Neurology (August 8, 2006) reported that major congenital malformations and fetal deaths were significantly more common in pregnancies of women taking Depakote compared with other antiepileptic drugs, and the effect of Depakote was dose-dependent.

These reports are of serious concern to bipolar women because some of the epilepsy medications involved in this study are also used as mood stabilizers, and women who take any of these drugs for migraine headaches should also be aware of Depakote side effects.

Depakote is manufactured by Abbott Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Divalproex sodium has been on the market since 1983 as Depakote; there are several generic forms of it manufactured by (among others) Mylan, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Sandoz, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA.

Depakote Lawsuits

While Depakote has been marketed as a treatment for psychiatric conditions, a similar drug called Epilim, which is used in the UK and also contains sodium valproate, has been marketed for epilepsy. A class action suit is underway in the UK involving Epilim, brought by parents who claim their children have been disabled by the anti-convulsant drug. Birth defects range from cleft palate and spina bifida to learning difficulties and behavioral problems.

If your child suffers from the side effects associated with Depakote, including spina bifida, a cleft palate or any other malady, Defakote attorneys advise that you schedule an appointment with your doctor to fully evaluate your child's condition and document the diagnosis, prognosis and if possible, the expected costs associated with the treatment your child will need throughout his or her life.

If you or someone you know is the victim of Depakote birth injury side effects, you may be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering Please click the link below to send your Depakote birth defects complaint to an attorney who will evaluate your claim free of charge.

Depakote Side Effects Legal Help

If you or a family member have taken Depakote and have subsequently had a child with birth defects, you may be eligible for compensation. Please fill in the form to the right to send your complaint to a lawyer who will review your claim at no charge.

Last updated on May-7-15


Depakote Settlement Increased with Punitive Damages
Depakote Settlement Increased with Punitive Damages St. Louis, MO: In the first of a possible series of Depakote trials, a jury awarded $15 million in compensatory damages. The St. Louis jury then added $23 million in punitive damages to a 12-year-old girl with spina bifida, which is a birth defect associated with Depakote [READ MORE]

$23 Million Verdict Awarded in First Depakote Birth Defects Lawsuit
$23 Million Verdict Awarded in First Depakote Birth Defects Lawsuit St. Louis, MO: A $23 million settlement has been awarded to a Minnesota girl ending a lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories in which the girl’s family alleged the epilepsy drug Depakote caused the girl’s birth defects. This is the first verdict against Abbott, the maker of Depakote [READ MORE]

Depakote a Bitter Pill After Recent Verdict for Abbott
Depakote a Bitter Pill After Recent Verdict for Abbott Bend, OR: The Depakote verdict in a recent bellwether trial cleared the drugmaker of responsibility for a child’s birth defects. Abbott Laboratories did not deny that Depakote caused the plaintiff’s spina bifida but argued that the mother understood the risks of both taking and not taking the epilepsy drug [READ MORE]


Posted by
I took depakote 3 times a day for migranes. I found out after I Was in the hospital I was pregnant. I continued it not knowing any side affect for my son. He was born w hypospadis. He had surgery to fix the problem at 6 months old. Now he's is complaining of pain down there. I'm contacting a lawyer.

Posted by
My daughter is 10. She has been taking depakote for 2 years for reasons unknown to me. I dont have custody of her due to the same stupid people making her go through this. They recently doubled her dose. Because of it she had a mental episode one day after school and found a broken glass bottle. She then begin slashing at herself and her sister. She is now in a mental institution. I believe it all to be because they are overdosing my child with depakote

Posted by
At 14 I ran into a tree playing football with my neighbors, was put into hospital with severe concussion. Developed Epilepsy, Grand Ma seizures, two years later. Was first put on Depekane (Valproic Acid) liquid in cap form until ulcers came around, then changed to Depekote, 2800 mg per day. I had my first baby, son, at age 25. Had blood work every week and was High Risk pregnancy. Was never told about the risks of taking this drug and having kids, wasn't worried about Epilepsy because mine was not genetic, didn't think that my medication would hurt my child.

My son was diagnosed with ADHD, ADD, ODD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Authority Defiance Disorder, Conduct Disorder, which no one ever told me that turned into Sociopath when he turned 18. This has been going on since he was at age 24, had so much trouble in high school because none of the teachers knew how to deal with Conduct disorder, they thought that a 2 hour class would teach them what they needed to know but got news for them by the time he went to elementy school I have had almost 6 years of not understanding and not knowing what to expect with these disorders I knew that 2 hours wouldn't be enough to learn what we had to.... the meanness the threats, violence, destruction, especially on our home, the not using his own thoughts and own mind when someone asks him to do things that are wrong but not to him.. I have asked one of the other lawyers about him because of this but they said I was too late, well too late is when he is dead or i am. He is on SSI because of his attitude and behavior. He can't get job, can't listen to anyone plus no high school diploma.

I am one parent of 2 children of different medications. Soon as I had my son in 1989 the Dr ? in Ravenna OH put me on Tegretol, was taking 800mg a day, 400mg morning and same at night, got pregnant, 14 months later my daughter was born. Never a prob with her, she just graduated college in 2012 with gpa of 3.00, while playing basket ball on team. Has 2 jobs and is doing well. Things that I wanted for both of my kids but he couldn't control himself and conduct himself in a matter to even have a job.

Why is it to late? I have all information and can find doctor that put me on tegretol, 1 hospital family practice within hospital. He is still suffering, and when I have to have him in our home my nerves are suffering.

Posted by
I took depakote in 2005 during the 1st 2 months of my pregnancy. My daughter was born with heart defects, and skeletal defects.

Posted by
My 9-yr-old daughter suffers from Non-Verbal Autism, severe developmental delays and other disabilities!

Posted by
My daughter was born with an Atral Septal defect, which is a birth defect from taking depakote in the first trimester.

Posted by
My son has a very hard time learning and concentrating and I believe he has an undiagnosed learning disorder. This has caused my son to be bullied for being slow. This has caused him also to mature slower and have a difficult time understanding things he is taught. I also took this drug while I breastfed for 3 years so he had almost 4 years of exposure to this drug.

Posted by
I have struggled to care for my daughter her whole life due to her disabilities. Seeing specialists, was unable to work, had to live off welfare while she was little. Now that she is 7 I still have a lot of time off work and financial burden to care for her and get proper help.

Posted by
Baby needed soft cleft palate repair surgery in 2008 and currently has a delay in speech has been in speech therapy due to having been born with soft cleft palate.

Posted by
Have not discovered the remedy yet, possibly expensive surgery and treatment, just realized the connection that I took depakote during my 1st trimester with her.

Posted by
New York
My daughter had two heart surgeries, and has residual complications due to the malformation of her heart. She continues to require annual monitoring of the ongoing formation of her heart and the need for additional surgery is unclear. This is a lifelong condition that may create complications throughout her life. I was assured during pregnancy that there was NO RISK of defects from taking this medication. My daughter was born in June 2002.

Posted by
New Mexico
My son is 13 years old and has been in therapy since 6 months of age along with being in special education all his school years. His academics are lower than his age level. His speech and muscles are underdeveloped.

Posted by
My son is permanently disabled due to his exposure while in utero to depakote.


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