Recent studies have determined that women who take anticonvulsant medications during pregnancy have a significantly increased risk of giving birth to a child with severe birth defects, including spina bifida. In fact, experts have indicated that anticonvulsant drugs are one of the most common causes of harm to a fetus in utero. Unfortunately, anticonvulsant drugs continue to be widely prescribed by physicians around the United States, largely due to a lack of adequate drug-related warning information from manufacturing companies. If you feel that you or your child has been injured due to the use of an anticonvulsant drug like Depakote, contact a Depakote injury lawyer today about your legal rights.
Spina Bifida Linked As Side Effect of Anticonvulsants
Millions of people suffer from seizure-related disorder in the United States every year. Anticonvulsant drugs were developed to effectively treat the symptoms associated with conditions like epilepsy, seizures, bipolar disorder and migraine headaches. Anticonvulsant medications are believed to work by affecting the function of a neurotransmitter in the brain, thereby decreasing the frequency of seizure episodes. Despite the popularity of these medications though, anticonvulsant drugs have been linked to catastrophic birth defects in infants whose mothers took the medications while pregnant.
Research has indicated that infants born to women who took certain anticonvulsant drugs during pregnancy are 12.7 times as likely to develop the serious birth defect called spina bifida than infants not exposed to the drug. Spina bifida is a devastating neural tube birth defect in which the child’s vertebrae fail to fuse together leaving an opening through which the spinal cord may protrude. Most birth defects like spina bifida are established during the first trimester of pregnancy, which means that women who take anticonvulsant drugs may cause irreversible damage to their child before they are even aware that they are pregnant.
Lawsuits for Spina Bifida Birth Defects from Depakote
Based upon extensive research, anticonvulsant medications present a substantial danger to infants whose mothers take the drugs during pregnancy. Unfortunately, millions of people continue to take these drugs to treat their seizure-related health conditions. Although birth defects like spina bifida were believed to be linked to genetics in the past, a study published in 2001 in the New England Journal of Medicine determined that the frequency of birth defects present in infants whose mothers have epilepsy is associated with the anticonvulsant drugs taken during pregnancy rather than with the epilepsy itself.
The manufacturer of anticonvulsant Depakote is being investigated for potential lawsuits for spina bifida related birth defects. Mothers who took Depakote or other anticonvulsants while pregnant are encouraged to contact a Depakote lawsuit attorney about pending class action lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories.