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More Depakote Birth Defect Claims—Spina Bifida and Autism

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Tampa, FLAs more women learn about Depakote birth defects, they are asking their doctors to prescribe other anti-seizure drugs. And more Depakote lawsuits are being filed against Abbott Laboratories.

Diane (not her real name) says she has been diagnosed with clinical depression. She hasn’t been able to deal with the guilt - blaming herself for her child’s spina bifida, which is a Depakote birth defect.

“When I was pregnant with my first child, no one told me to stop taking Depakote so I had no idea that it could cause any serious side effects,” says Diane.
“I thought the drug was helping because I didn’t have any more seizures but I would gladly trade the worst seizures for my son to be normal. The spina bifida has caused him to have bowel and bladder problems and we are always going back and forth to the hospital because he needs a catheter.”

Doctors have told Diane that her son, age 4, will soon require braces to help him walk due to his legs not growing properly. He has already undergone two surgeries and will need more as he grows.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 2010 that revealed six specific birth defects occurring at a high rate when Depakote was taken during the first trimester of pregnancy. The study found a 12-fold increase in children being born with spina bifida.

In January 2013, a South Carolina man filed a Depakote lawsuit in the Illinois Southern District Court against Abbott. He claims that his spina bifida condition was caused from his mother taking Depakote during the early months of her pregnancy with him.

Carly also blames herself for her son’s birth defects. She enrolled him in a special education program due to his learning difficulties. “Josh has Autism Spectrum Disorder and he was born with hypospadias, which required surgery to correct it,” she says. (Hypospadias is a birth defect where the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis rather than at the end of the penis. This can cause problems with passing urine and also with erections.)

“I took Depakote only during the first trimester of my pregnancy because my doctor said the risk of me having a seizure was greater than the rare chances of any birth defect,” says Carly. “I did some research into Depakote birth defects: they aren’t so rare so I took myself off the drug - my doctor prescribed another anti-seizure med but it was too late. I had no idea this could happen to him as a result. I feel so guilty…”

In July of 2012, a number of women filed a Depakote lawsuit in the Illinois federal court against Abbott Laboratories, alleging that Depakote taken during their pregnancies caused their children to be born with birth defects.

Also in 2012, the FDA released another Depakote warning: children who were exposed to Depakote in the womb typically scored lower in IQ tests and other measures of cognitive function. Carly, a single mom, took Depakote in 2009: the FDA warning came too late but she is hopeful that a lawsuit will help pay for her son’s special needs.


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