Epilepsy and Depakote Treatment

Epilepsy is a troubling condition that affects almost 3 million Americans, which is about one in every 100 people in the country. This brain disorder is a difficult condition to manage, especially if someone has a moderate or severe form of it, as those who endure epilepsy live in constant fear of having seizures that take control of their bodies.

Over time, different medications have been formulated to help treat the conditions of epilepsy, and general treatments for the condition have evolved in recent years as well. One of the leading medications designed to help treat the symptoms of epilepsy is Depakote, and below you’ll find an overview of epilepsy and how it affects those who suffer from it.

Epilepsy – Understaning Epileptic Seizures

Inside the brain, there are many different functions that are taking place at any given time. Many of these functions involve the transmission of signals or brain waves, and for most people these processes go unnoticed. For those with epilepsy, brain function is something that is part of their everyday lives, as this condition involves the generation of powerful electrical signals that can cause recurring seizures.

When these seizures occur, they require medical treatment because of the dangers involved. Those who are suffering a seizure lose control over their bodies and their motor functions, and if an epileptic seizure strikes at a certain time – such as while driving or swimming – the results can be deadly.

Causes of Epilepsy

While several important advancements have been made in regards to the study of epilepsy, the world of medical science has yet to identify a definitive cause for this condition. However, there have been factors that have been located, and examples of them appear below:

  • Genetic causes – Researchers have identified certain forms of epilepsy that can be traced to certain genetic indicators, especially in cases where this condition runs in the family. While some believe that these genes lead to epilepsy, others believe that these genetic codes only make someone more susceptible to developing the condition.
  • Strokes – Although researchers have yet to identify how the link between strokes and the development of epilepsy is established, statistics show that almost one-half of all people who develop epilepsy after the age of 65 have had a stroke in the past.
  • Head injuries – People who have endured serious head trauma for one reason or another have shown a higher tendency to develop epilepsy after the traumatic event.

Prenatal injuries – Fetuses that sustain injuries while in the womb that include poor nutrition, oxygen deprivation or an infection that was transmitted from the mother have also shown a tendency to develop this condition.

As can be seen, epilepsy can strike a person at any time during his or her life. This is one of the reasons that it’s been difficult to identify a cause, although the risk factors above have allowed many people to prepare for the possibility of this condition to develop.

Symptoms of Epilepsy

Most people have seen examples of severe symptoms associated with epilepsy, and they are not only terrifying to witness, but are even more difficult to experience. The main outward symptom of epilepsy is the tendency to experience seizures, although these seizures can vary in terms of their intensity and their outward appearance.

For instance, mild forms of epilepsy may include the tendency to experience staring spells or temporary confusion, while more severe forms of this disease can lead to seizures where a person’s body shakes and jerks uncontrollably for a period of time. Generally, people with epilepsy experience the same type and intensity of seizures throughout their lifetimes.

Some seizures will last for only a few seconds, but others have lasted for more than five minutes. The longer a seizure lasts, the more dangerous the situation becomes for several reasons, as countless injuries have been suffered by those with epilepsy while in the throes of one of these types of seizures. Absent treatments, these seizures will continue periodically throughout a person’s life.

Treatment of Epilepsy and Depakote

Fortunately for those millions of people who suffer from epilepsy, new treatments have become available in recent years that have helped them to minimize their symptoms and to reduce the number of seizures that take place. There is no known cure for this condition, but advances have allowed the potential damage that can be done to be minimized.

The most common form of treatment for epilepsy is medication, and one of the leading medications used to treat the symptoms of epilepsy is Depakote, which is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories. Depakote was originally approved for use in the United States in 1983, and it works by penetrating the brain and slowing down the activity levels of the brain on a cellular level so that the symptoms of epileptic seizures are minimized.

In more severe cases of epilepsy, surgery may be a necessary step. However, surgery is only possible if medical tests determine that these seizures can be pinpointed to a small area of the brain that’s accessible to surgeons such that a correction is possible. Unfortunately, surgical correction is a rare possibility.

Studies Link Depakote to Serious Birth Injuries

Despite its effectiveness in treating symptoms of epilepsy, Depakote has come under attack by experts who have linked the drug to serious birth defects in children. Recent studies have indicated that infants whose mothers take Depakote during pregnancy have a higher frequency of birth injuries than infants who are not exposed to the drug. In fact, researchers have warned that anticonvulsant drugs like Depakote are one of the most common causes of harm to a fetus in utero. Recently the FDA released a warning to health care professionals and patients about the increased risk of major birth defects in children exposed to Depakote during pregnancy, including defects of the brain and spinal cord, abnormally formed face and skull, and malformed heart or blood vessels.

Many cases of birth defects in children due to the use of Depakote have led to Depakote class action lawsuits. It is the goal of these lawsuits to help victims of Depakote injuries collect the compensation they deserve. Depakote attorneys also seek to bring public attention to the dangers of using anticonvulsant drugs like Depakote during pregnancy. Drug manufacturers should be held accountable for making information regarding the potential dangers of their medications available to the public. If health professionals and patients are adequately informed, they can make educated decisions about the safety of using Depakote. Without this knowledge, pregnant women may continue to take Depakote, unaware of the danger they may be inflicting upon their unborn child.

Contact a Depakote Attorney

There are a number of other birth defects related to the use of Depakote during pregnancy. These include:

  • Spina bifida
  • Growth retardation
  • Fetal death
  • Cleft palate
  • Skeletal defects
  • Hypoplasia
  • Hydranencephaly
  • Iniencephaly
  • Hand deformations
  • Heart malformations

Many of these birth injuries can lead to life-long complications for an affected child, including blindness, bladder and bowel problems, decreased cognitive development, and permanent paralysis. Other defects may result in death shortly after birth or within one year of birth. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a birth injury due to the use of Depakote, contact a Depakote attorney for help. An experienced Depakote lawyer can help you receive the compensation you are entitled to.

For a free attorney claim review, fill out the Depakote injury contact form. Your Depakote attorney may request that you collect all information pertaining to the case, including medical records and insurance documentation. Even if this information is not readily available to you, you should still fill out the contact form so that a Depakote lawyer can review your case.