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The Cost of Depakote Birth Defects

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Salt Lake City, UTIt is one thing to write about the various side effects related to use of Depakote, the anti-convulsant drug that is used to treat the symptoms of epileptic seizures. When a Depakote patient uses valproate (Depakote) during various stages of a pregnancy, the child may be born with cleft lip, cleft palate or a combination of both.

Such Depakote birth defects can be treated. But at what cost? What is the reality for parents, if their child is born with a facial deformity that, indeed, can be reversed over time but will require significant resources to accomplish?

To that end, the Kids With Clefts Utah blog provides a wealth of information on the subject. Two parents gave examples of the costs involved for repair of the deformity. In one case, the total bill was $8,127.94.

For the other $11,350.

Both involved various procedures by a plastic surgeon and support staff, with two days in the hospital.

Resolving Depakote birth defects successfully may depend on a family's ability to pay. A child whose parents lack adequate health insurance may be doomed to endure life with a grievous facial deformity. However, even those covered by health insurance may face limitations in their coverage that could put a strain on the family's finances.

And that may be only the beginning…

There are "'revisions"' that may be required throughout the various growth stages of the child beyond the initial procedure noted above. For a child suffering from both a cleft lip and palate, there could be as many as eight procedures in total.

The initial incision may have to be revised with plastic surgery. A hard palate repair may have to be done at four years, and/or an alveolar bone graft at six years of age. Nose and lip revisions may have to be done by seven years of age.

Then there is the potential for malocclusion, according to Kids With Clefts Utah. Described in general terms as a misalignment of teeth, a "'midface advancement"' is sometimes required to pull the upper jaw—which is often stunted in cleft children—into alignment with the lower jaw. Of the two procedures available to accomplish this task, both involve the fairly invasive job of cutting and realignment of the jawbone to the desired position.

Lucky is the parent whose cleft child can be remedied in just one procedure at the infant stage—even with the expense approaching and sometimes exceeding $10,000. In practice, many additional procedures are often required to remedy a cleft during a child's formative years. This adds to an expense a family may not be in a position to bear, or to a health care plan with severe limitations or predisposed to increase premiums significantly in the face of repeated claims.

Thus, if the foregoing Depakote side effects put such a strain on the family, little wonder that a Depakote lawsuit is often initiated in an attempt for justice and to offset the substantial cost needed to right that wrong.


Photo: Chinadaily.com.cn

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