Neural Tube Birth Defects and Depakote

Neural tube birth defects from Depakote use during pregnancy have possibly been associated and lawsuits are being formed by attorneys on behalf of affected families.

According to Depakote side effect studies, women who take the anticonvulsant drug Depakote during pregnancy may have a significantly increased risk of giving birth to children with neural tube birth defects like spina bifida. Depakote is one of a group of pharmaceutical drugs called anticonvulsants, which were initially developed as a first line of defense against epilepsy. In recent years however, anticonvulsant drugs like Depakote have been approved for additional uses and some have even been prescribed off-label by physicians. Depakote, for example, has been on the market since 1983 and has been approved for the treatment of epilepsy, 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, and the drug is currently manufactured by pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories.

Since Depakote entered the U.S. market, the drug has become one of the most frequently-prescribed anticonvulsant medications available. Unfortunately, recent FDA warnings and Depakote side effect studies have raised serious concerns about the safety of the drug, especially in treating pregnant women and women of childbearing age. If you took Depakote while pregnant and your child was born with a congenital malformation like a neural tube birth defect, contact a Depakote attorney, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.

Types of Neural Tube Birth Defects

Neural tube birth defects are caused by the failure of the neural tube to close completely during fetal development. The neural tube is the precursor to the child's central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord. There are two types of neural tube defects: open and closed. Open neural tube birth defects are characterized by a malformation of the skull or vertebrae, exposing the brain or spinal cord at birth. Closed neural tube defects are less common and occur when the malformation is covered by a layer of skin, such as in spina bifida occulta. There are a number of different types of neural tube defects which range in severity, including spina bifida, hydranencephaly, iniencephaly and anencephaly.

Neural Tube Defect Treatment and Complications

The proper treatment for neural tube birth defects varies depending on the severity of the malformation as well as the actual location of the defect. In minor cases of spina bifida, the child may exhibit no symptoms and the malformation may go undetected throughout the child's life. In children with hydranencephaly however, the cerebral hemispheres are absent at birth, replaced by sacs of cerebrospinal fluid. There is no cure for neural tube defects like hydranencephaly, iniencephaly and anencephaly, and treatment is geared towards alleviating the accompanying side effects of the birth defect.

Depakote and Side Effect Studies

In 2009, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning patients and healthcare professionals about the increased risk of Depakote birth defects in children exposed to the anticonvulsant during pregnancy. Among the potential Depakote birth defects were neural tube defects, heart defects and craniofacial malformations. This FDA warning was influenced by data collected by the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry, which indicated that Depakote use during pregnancy increases the risk of major malformations in children, including neural tube defects. According to Depakote side effect studies, the rate of major malformations in babies born to women with epilepsy taking Depakote is nearly four times higher than the rate of major malformations in babies born to women with epilepsy taking a different anticonvulsant drug. Furthermore, the FDA indicates that the expected rate of neural tube birth defects among children in the U.S. is 1,500, while the rate among children exposed to Depakote in utero is a shocking 1 in 20.

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 harm to a fetus 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 treatment options. It may not be safe to suddenly discontinue use of a prescription drug, but with your doctor's help, you may be able to find a safer alternative to Depakote for treating your medical condition.

Depakote Attorneys for Neural Tube Defect Side Effects

Neural tube birth defects are one of the most common types of congenital malformations among infants and are also one of the leading causes of disability and infant death in the United States. If you or a loved one has suffered from a neural tube birth defect and you believe Depakote to be the cause, contact a Depakote attorney to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds to file a Depakote lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories in order to seek financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. You are not at fault for any injuries caused by a dangerous pharmaceutical drug. With the help of a qualified Depakote lawyer, you can collect the compensation you deserve and protect yourself and your family from further harm.

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