Valproic Acid Side Effects
If you took anticonvulsants containing VALPROIC ACID, such as DEPAKOTE, during pregnancy and your child developed any type of birth defect, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Fill out the contact form and find out how a Divalproex Sodium lawsuit attorney can help.
Side Effects of Valproic Acid and Depakote
Valproic acid is a chemical compound that is commonly used in anticonvulsant drugs such as Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene, Depacon, and divalproex sodium. Valproic acid has been successful in treating the symptoms of conditions such as epilepsy, seizures, bipolar disorder and migraine headaches. The compound was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an anti-seizure drug in 1967 in France and has since become the most prescribed anticonvulsant drug world-wide.
Valproic acid is believed to function by restoring the balance of specific neurotransmitters in the brain, thereby decreasing the frequency of seizure-related episodes. Valproic acid is orally administered and can be taken as a capsule, a delayed-release tablet, an extended-release tablet, a sprinkle capsule or a liquid syrup.
Birth Defects and Side Effects of Valproic Acid
Despite valproic acid’s history of effective treatment of these conditions, it has also been associated with serious adverse side effects. Many of these cases involve women who took valproic acid during pregnancy and subsequently gave birth to a child with severe birth defects. Some of these birth defects include:
- Spina bifida
- Cleft palate
- Craniofacial defects
- Cardiovascular malformations
- Neural tube birth defects
Spina bifida is a neural tube defect in which the affected child’s neural tube fails to close completely during the early stages of fetal development. Some overlying vertebrae are not fully fused together, creating an opening in the bones through which part of the spinal cord may protrude. Some cases of spina bifida are minor and may never be discovered while other forms are more severe, like spina bifida cystica, which is characterized by exposed parts of the spinal cord that actually protrude through the skin.
Cleft palate is a congenital malformation in which an opening exists in the roof of the mouth which allows food and liquid to pass from the mouth back through the nasal passage. A cleft can occur on one or both sides of the mouth and can affect the bony portion in the front of the mouth or the soft portion located in the back of the roof of the mouth. Complications such as hearing loss and speech difficulties can accompany a cleft palate.
Craniofacial defects describe any malformation of the skull or face, including cleft lip and cleft palate. While this type of malformation is one of the most common of all the defects, it can also be the most dangerous. Skull deformities can interfere with brain development and cause facial, muscle and nerve disorders. Children with craniofacial defects usually require reconstructive surgery to repair the malformation.
Cardiovascular malformations are the abnormal development of heart blood vessels. An example of this kind of malformation is hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital disorder in which parts of the left side of the heart are underdeveloped at birth. Cardiovascular malformations can cause a reduced pulse, enlarged heart, breathing difficulty and even death.
In the early stages of fetal development, the spinal cord rolls into a narrow tube called the neural tube, which is the foundation of what will become the child’s central nervous system. A neural tube birth defect is characterized by an opening in the spinal cord or brain as cells begin to fuse together to form the neural tube. This type of defect can cause muscle weakness, misshapen bones and paralysis, among other symptoms. While some forms of neural tube birth defects can be corrected with surgery, more severe cases of the defect can result in death.
Dangers of Taking Valproic Acid While Pregnant
These birth defects can force a young child to struggle with debilitating injuries and illnesses for the rest of his life, leave him paralyzed, or even lead to death. Extensive research has been performed regarding the alleged connection between the use of anticonvulsant drugs like valproic acid during pregnancy and birth defects in children. Recent studies have found that infants whose mothers took anticonvulsant drugs while pregnant have a higher frequency of birth defects than infants who were not exposed to the drug. In fact, research has also suggested that anticonvulsant drugs are one of the most common causes of harm to a fetus in utero.
Connection Between Valproic Acid and Severe Birth Defects
Recent studies have reasserted the connection between valproic acid and the existence of severe birth defects in children. Researchers have found that infants whose mothers take valproic acid during pregnancy have an increased frequency of birth defects than infants who are not exposed to the drug. In fact, experts believe that anticonvulsant drugs like valproic acid are one of the most common causes of harm to a fetus in utero. Furthermore, the FDA recently released a statement warning patients and health professionals about the increased risk of major birth injuries in children who are exposed to valproic acid, including:
- Cardiovascular malformations (abnormally formed heart or blood vessels)
- Neural tube birth defects (defects of the brain and spinal cord)
- Craniofacial abnormalities (abnormally formed face and skull)
Other birth injuries related to the use of valproic acid are cleft palate, growth retardation, spina bifida, fetal death, growth retardation, hydranencephaly, iniencephaly, and hypoplasia. Many of these birth injury claims have led to valproic acid class action lawsuits. It is the goal of valproic acid attorneys to help victims of birth injuries collect the compensation they are entitled to. Another goal is to draw attention to the dangers of taking medications that contain valproic acid, especially for pregnant women. Without accurate information, pregnant women may continue to take valproic acid, potentially causing harm to their unborn child.
A Valproic Acid Attorney Can Help
Many birth injuries believed to be linked to valproic acid will affect the individual for the rest of his life, possibly resulting in extensive and costly treatments and surgeries. Other malformations can be fatal, leading to death within a year after the child’s birth. If you or a loved one has suffered from a birth injury due to the use of valproic acid, a valproic acid attorney can help you receive the compensation you deserve.
For a free attorney claim review, fill out the Depakote injury contact form. Your attorney will most likely request that you collect any information that may be pertinent to your case, including medical records and insurance documents. Even if this information is not readily available, you should fill out the contact form so that a valproic acid lawyer can review your case.
Contact a Valproic Acid Birth Defect Lawyer
Millions of people continue to take anticonvulsant drugs like valproic acid, unaware of the dangerous side effects that may be connected to its use. If you or a loved one has experienced birth defects believed to be linked to the use of valproic acid, fill out the contact form to discuss your case with a valproic acid attorney.