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Depakote Warning Too Late

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Chicago, ILMonica found out - too late - that Depakote causes birth defects. Like many women, she took the drug for the first few months of her pregnancy, not knowing she was pregnant.

“My psychiatrist prescribed Depakote for my mood swings; I didn’t even need to take this drug - it wasn’t a life or death situation,” says Monica, crying. “We didn’t know that I was pregnant until the baby was 10 weeks and even then I didn’t know that Depakote can cause serious birth defects and should not be taken while pregnant.”

Monica’s psychiatrist didn’t seem to know either. It wasn’t until she discovered the dangers of Depakote online that Monica took herself off the drug, and not until she was about six months pregnant.

“My son Germaine was born in May 2007, and started having seizures when he was three months old,” Monica says. “He was also mentally delayed. Germaine was on meds for the seizures, called ‘infantile spasms,’ and in 2009, he was diagnosed with quadriplegia cerebral palsy.”

Ironically, Valproate, the generic form of Depakote, is sometimes prescribed to control seizures in people with cerebral palsy (CP). No studies have indicated that Depakote is associated with CP but Monica is convinced the drug is connected in some way.

Typically, symptoms of cerebral palsy normally become apparent during the first three years of a child's life, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH). Cerebral palsy, which is the leading cause of childhood disabilities, has many possible causes, including genetic abnormalities, congenital brain malformations, maternal infections or fevers, or fetal injury, and exposure to toxic substances such as methyl mercury. The latter cause is the one that has Monica wondering: was Depakote toxic to the fetus?

“Germaine has been in a wheelchair since 2008,” says Monica. “For the past year he has lived in a nursing home for children, where he gets all kinds of therapy - he also has severe scoliosis. I can visit anytime I want and the facility is close by, and I think Germaine likes it.

I had a Depakote lawyer review my case when Germaine was young because I wanted to rule out medical malpractice, but all along, I suspected Depakote.”

Monica says that not a day goes by when she doesn’t blame herself for Germaine’s condition.

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