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Depakote: My Son Was Born with Club Feet

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Wood Lake, MNShirley's son, Christian, was born with club feet, a birth defect linked to Depakote. "My doctor took me off Depakote once I knew I was pregnant but I took it for a few months during my pregnancy," Shirley says, adding that she didn't take Depakote during the pregnancy of her other three children, "and they are all fine."

Shirley also miscarried before she became pregnant with Christian, and she took Depakote during that time…

"Right after Christian was born he wore corrective shoes but that didn't help," says Shirley, "so he had his first surgery at 10 months old. Both his feet had to be broken and straightened and his heel bones were lowered because they were too high. He was just starting to crawl when he had casts on both legs for six weeks, then another set just below the knee for another six weeks.

"Christian didn't start walking until about 16 months. At nine years old, he underwent more surgeries and had plates and screws on both his legs and knees. Christian was an active boy so this really cramped his style—he wasn't a happy camper. About a year later, five of the six plates were removed, and the last plate came out earlier this year. Even with these disabilities, nothing stopped him, but at the same time he lost a lot of physical education time.

"Today, Christian is on his feet with supports in his shoes, but I've noticed that he gets the bends back in his leg, meaning he doesn't stand straight; the muscles in his lower leg are beginning to pull again. He complains of pain in his legs and feet but he has learned to deal with this since he was a baby. And he has to go back to the hospital in August for a follow-up.

"It never crossed my mind to talk with my doctor about why Christian was born with club feet; I just figured it was something that just happened. But a few years ago I found out about Depakote birth defects and I was shocked. My husband saw an ad on TV and asked me what meds I was on when pregnant with Christian. I immediately called my doctor and he confirmed I was on Depakote—I have my files. Now of course it's too late to change anything, except to file a lawsuit.

"It would be nice to get reimbursed for some medical costs, and all the pain and suffering Christian has gone through. We spent so much time and money traveling to specialists—they have been awesome—but it was very expensive. If not for their help, we wouldn't have been able to get the necessary surgeries and he would really be suffering. We couldn't afford it and that would have been so unfair to Christian." Shirley praises and thanks the Shriners Hospital in the Twin Cities for giving Christian the surgery he needed. Shriners Hospitals treat a variety of conditions including clubfoot. "Christian's prognosis is hard to tell and he may need further surgeries, god forbid," she says.

In December 2009, the FDA's Med Watch Safety Alerts classified Depakote as a Category D pregnancy drug, stating "There is an increased risk of neural tube defects, such as defects of the brain and spinal cord, and other major birth defects, such as craniofacial defects (abnormally formed face and skull enclosing the brain) and cardiovascular malformations (abnormally formed heart or blood vessels), in babies exposed to valproate sodium and related products during pregnancy." Depakote has also been linked to skeletal birth defects, including clubfoot.

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READER COMMENTS

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i feel for your son going thru his illness i pray and pray everyday for your son may jesus alibuda help your son bless him everyday of his life hope and pray to my higher power for him to get strenght and energy day in and out of his life good luck for you child mt heart goes out to him bless him

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