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3.5. Spina Bifida and Depakote

Depakote (valproate semisodium or divalproex) is the brand name of a drug which was first approved in the early eighties for the treatment of epilepsy. In 1995, it was approved for use in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Depakote was approved for treating migraine headaches in 1996. And finally in 2002, the FDA approved the use of Depakote ER for adults with epileptic seizures.

However, according to the Food and Drug Association there are many dangerous side effects of Dapakote that involve the unborn fetus. We now know that one of the more serious side effects is Spina Bifida. In 2010, a Medical study found that Depakote greatly increases the risk of birth defects when taken as early as the first trimester of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant. According to the FDA, "The rates for neural tube defects in babies exposed to valproate (found in Depakote) during the first trimester are 30 to 80 times higher than the rate for neural tube defects in the general U.S. population."

Spina Bifida is a neural tube birth defect, occurring when there is a malformation of the neural tube during the development of the fetus. A fetus begins to develop its spinal cord very early and it is the precursor to the actual growth of the brain. When children are born with spina bifida, the vertebrae of the spinal cord are not properly fused and the spinal cord itself may be partially exposed. This can lead to a number of very serious complications during the growth of the child and sometimes even results in death.

Spina Bifida, Depakote, and Your Legal Rights

Those who took Depakote during their pregnancy, and are now faced with the task of caring for a child who suffers from spina bifida, should immediately seek competent legal counsel. A law firm with experience in pharmaceutical litigation will know what needs to be done in order to protect any possible claim you may have against the manufacturers of Depakote.


This educational material is provided by Ted Tredennick, Esq., of Thompson & Tredennick, LLP.

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