Hydranencephaly and Depakote

Hydranencephaly and Depakote use while pregnant side effects may be correlated and lawsuits are being filed.  Contact a Depakote lawyer if your child was affected by Depakote birth defects.

An emerging body of research has suggested that women who take Depakote during pregnancy may be significantly more likely to give birth to children with one or more severe birth defects like hydranencephaly. Depakote belongs to a class of medications called anticonvulsants, which were originally developed as a first-line defense against epilepsy. In recent years however, anticonvulsant drugs like Depakote have been approved for a number of additional uses. Depakote, for example, has been on the market since 1983 and is currently approved for the treatment of epilepsy, seizures, migraine headaches and bipolar disorder. Depakote (valproic acid) works by inhibiting the firing of certain impulses in the brain which are responsible for causing seizures, and is currently manufactured by drug company Abbott Laboratories.

Although Depakote has become one of the most popular anticonvulsant drugs since it entered the U.S. market nearly thirty years ago, new Depakote side effect information has indicated that the medication may no longer be a safe option for pregnant women or women of childbearing age. If you took Depakote while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect like hydranencephaly, contact a Depakote attorney to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your child's injuries and medical expense, which you can collect by filing a Depakote lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories.

Hydranencephaly Symptoms

Hydranencephaly is a catastrophic neural tube birth defect characterized by the absence of an infant's cerebral hemispheres, which are replaced by sacs filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Neural tube defects like hydranencephaly are caused by the failure of the neural tube to close completely during fetal development. In some cases, the cerebellum, brain stem and other central nervous system tissues may be intact. Although children born with hydranencephaly may appear normal at birth, they typically exhibit irritability and increased muscle tone within a few weeks after birth. After a few months, the affected child may suffer from seizures or hydrocephalus, which is a build up of fluid in the brain. Many children with hydranencephaly are also born blind, deaf and paralyzed, with evidence cognitive impairment.

Hydranencephaly Treatment and Prognosis

Diagnosis of hydranencephaly may be delayed for several months after birth, as affected children are commonly born with normal head size and the ability to perform reflex functions like crying, swallowing, and moving their arms and legs. There is currently no cure for hydranencephaly and treatment is only supportive, to relieve the symptoms associated with the condition. The prognosis for children with hydranencephaly is poor, and few infants with this birth defect live past the first year of life.

Depakote and Birth Defect Studies

The FDA issued a safety announcement in 2009 warning patients and healthcare providers about the increased risk of certain major birth defects in children exposed to Depakote in utero. According to the FDA warning, infants born to women who take Depakote during pregnancy may have a significantly higher risk of developing neural tube birth defects like hydranencephaly, heart defects and craniofacial malformations like cleft palate. This safety notice was based on data provided by the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry, which indicates that the rate of major malformations in babies born to women with epilepsy taking Depakote is almost four times higher than the rate of major malformations in babies born to women taking a different anticonvulsant drug.

According to the FDA, about 1 in 1,500 babies in the U.S. is born with a neural tube defect like hydranencephaly. The risk of neural tube defects is much higher in babies born to women treated with Depakote during the first trimester of pregnancy, increasing the risk of neural tube defects to 1 in 20 babies. In 2001, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study examining the pregnancies of women who took one or more anticonvulsants like Depakote, Dilantin and Tegretol while pregnant. According to the report, 20.6% of infants whose mothers took an anticonvulsant like Depakote during pregnancy were born with birth defects, compared to 28% of infants exposed to two or more anticonvulsants, and 8.5% of infants exposed to no anticonvulsants in utero.

Depakote Use in 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 immediately. It may be dangerous to suddenly discontinue use of a prescription drug without medical consent, as this may cause further harm to you or your child. With your doctor's help, you may be able to find a safer alternative to Depakote for treating your medical condition.

Depakote Attorneys for Hydranencephaly Side Effects

Hydranencephaly is a devastating and incurable birth defect that may be associated with the use of Depakote in pregnancy. If you or a loved one has suffered from a side effect or birth defect like hydranencephaly, which you believe to be linked to Depakote, contact an experienced Depakote attorney to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, which you can collect by filing a Depakote lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories. Drug companies like Abbott are responsible for the safety of their medications, and should be held accountable for any serious side effects sustained by consumers of their products. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. By hiring a qualified Depakote lawyer, victims of potential Depakote birth defects can protect their rights and collect the compensation they deserve.

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