It is not uncommon for women to not know immediately that they are pregnant. In Valerie’s case, she was told that her chances of getting pregnant were next to impossible so she was surprised, thrilled and concerned with the news. “I had an alpha-fetoprotein (AFP screening test) at 18 weeks and another ultrasound at 21 weeks. Both tests showed that my baby had Spina Bifida [a spinal defect] and the ultrasound determined there were more serious birth defects,” Valerie says, and crying. She terminated the pregnancy.
There are several types of Spina Bifida. Some people (about 15 percent of healthy people) don’t even know they have it while Spina Bifida Cystica is very serious and can cause brain damage.
John Bonner was born in 1994 with Spina Bifida. He believes that Chantele Bonner’s use of Depakote while she was pregnant with John is the cause of his spinal defect along with other physical and cognitive Depakote side effects. (Depakote has recently been linked to lower IQs in children whose mothers took Depakote during their pregnancy.)
READ MORE DEPAKOTE BIRTH DEFECT LEGAL NEWS
Furthermore, Chantele’s doctor testified that if the state of medical knowledge was as alleged in 1994 and made known to him, it would have changed his prescribing habits of Depakote, according to Health Law Week. As a result, John’s Depakote lawsuit is going forward.
A more recent Depakote study in 2009 advised women of child-bearing age not to use valproate (brand name Depakote) as their first anti-seizure drug of choice.