Heart Defects and Depakote

Depakote and heart defects have been possibly linked in FDA reported studies.  Depakote attorneys are filing lawsuits nationwide on behalf of victims of Depakote birth defects.  If your child was born with birth defects and Depakote was used during pregnancy, speak with a Depakote lawyer to discuss your options.

Several Depakote side effect studies have indicated that the anticonvulsant drug Depakote may be linked to the development of serious birth defects among children, including life-threatening heart defects. Depakote belongs to a class of drugs called anticonvulsants, which were initially designed as a treatment for epilepsy. Since its introduction in 1983, Depakote has been additionally approved for the treatment of migraine headaches, seizures and bipolar disorder. Depakote (valproic acid) works by inhibiting the firing of certain impulses in the brain which are responsible for causing seizures. Depakote is currently manufactured by pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories.

Although Depakote is one of the most popular anticonvulsant medications on the U.S. market, side effect studies and FDA warnings have suggested that the drug may no longer be considered safe, especially in the treatment of pregnant women and women of childbearing age. According to research, women who take Depakote while pregnant may have a significantly increased risk of giving birth to children with one or more serious side effects, including heart defects. If you took Depakote while pregnant and your child was born with a major side effect or birth defect, contact a Depakote attorney to discuss your legal options.

Heart Defect Symptoms

A heart defect is a congenital birth defect affecting the formation of a child's heart or the blood vessels surrounding the heart. Heart defects occur as a result of the structures failing to develop properly in utero, and commonly inhibit the heart's ability to function and deliver blood to the rest of the body. Some heart defects obstruct the flow of blood in the heart, while others such as hypoplastic right heart syndrome cause blood to flow through the heart in an abnormal manner, or affect the heart's rhythm. While some heart defects are minor and can sometimes go untreated, more than half of infants born with a heart defect require treatment for the defect. Because heart defects often interfere with the heart's ability to deliver blood to the body's vital organs, children born with heart defects may exhibit symptoms like shortness of breath, cyanosis (bluish tint to the skin), respiratory infections, and poor growth.

Atrial Septal Defect

One of the heart side effects potentially associated with Depakote use in pregnancy is an atrial septal defect, characterized by a hole in the wall of the heart separating the left and right atria. Atrial septal defects allow blood to flow between the upper chambers of the heart, mixing oxygenated blood from the left atrium with oxygen-poor blood from the right atrium, and increasing the amount of blood that flows to the lungs.

Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome

Hypoplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS) is a birth defect in which a child's right ventricle is underdeveloped, preventing the right side of the heart from functioning properly. Early symptoms of HRHS include difficulty breathing and cyanosis after birth. Because the right side of the heart's muscle structure is poor in children with this malformation, serious problems occur as the heart attempts to pump blood to the pulmonary valve for transfer to the lungs. Hypoplastic right heart syndrome requires immediate and emergency treatment, as the heart begins to fail shortly after birth.

Depakote and Side Effect Studies

In 2009, the FDA issued a safety announcement warning patients and physicians about the increased risk of serious birth defects in children exposed to Depakote during pregnancy. Among the potential Depakote birth defects were neural tube defects, craniofacial malformations and heart defects like atrial septal defects and hypoplastic right heart syndrome. This FDA warning was based on data collected by the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry, which indicated that infants exposed to Depakote in utero were four times more likely to develop major malformations compared to infants exposed to other anticonvulsant drugs during pregnancy. In 2010, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study in which researchers examined the potential adverse effects of fetal exposure to Depakote. According to the report, children born to women who took Depakote while pregnant were 12.7 times more likely to develop spina bifida, nearly seven times more likely to be born with craniosynostosis, five times more likely to develop cleft palate, 2.5 times more likely to be born with an atrial septal defect, and more than twice as likely to develop a hand deformation.

Depakote and Pregnancy

Depakote has been classified by the FDA as a pregnancy category D medication, which means there is positive human evidence of the drug's potential to cause serious fetal harm when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Depakote and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your healthcare provider to discuss alternative options. You should never suddenly stop taking a prescription drug, as this may cause further harm to you or your child. However, with your doctor's help you may be able to find a safer way to treat your condition.

Depakote Attorneys for Heart Defect Side Effects

Due to the severity of the potential side effects of Depakote use in pregnancy, the FDA has advised physicians to avoid prescribing Depakote to pregnant women, especially for conditions not typically associated with permanent injury or death. If you or a loved one has suffered from a heart defect and you believe Depakote to be the cause, contact a Depakote attorney to discuss the benefits of filing a Depakote lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories. The goal of Depakote lawsuits and Depakote class action lawsuits is to seek financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Filing a lawsuit with the help of a Depakote lawyer can also help victims of alleged Depakote birth defects protect their rights and bring public attention to the potentially harmful nature of pharmaceutical drugs like Depakote.

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