Since it was first introduced in 1983, the anticonvulsant drug Depakote has become one of the most popular anti-epileptic treatments in the United States. Unfortunately, there is a long-standing debate about Depakote’s safety, with opponents of the medication citing studies that show a potential link between Depakote use in pregnancy and serious birth defects in babies. This has become a major concern for pregnant women with epilepsy and epileptic women who plan to become pregnant, as they are faced with an extremely difficult decision. Do they give up the medicine during pregnancy and face the difficulties their seizure disorder poses, or stick with the meds and put their unborn child at risk of developing life-altering birth defects like neural tube defects, heart defects and spina bifida? As more information about Abbott Laboratories’ Depakote and its birth defect risks becomes public, pregnant women can at least make informed decisions regarding their use of medications while pregnant. Unfortunately, some epileptic women, unaware of the possible birth defect risks of anticonvulsant drugs like Depakote, took the medication in the past and gave birth to children with one or more major birth defects. For this reason, it is imperative that drug companies begin to take significant steps towards providing consumers with more accurate information about the pregnancy risks of certain pharmaceutical drugs. For children who have already suffered from medicine-related birth defects, lifetime care may be available through a birth defect claim. Contact an experienced birth defect attorney today for legal help.
Birth defects are generally categorized as developmental, metabolic or structural malformations, and can affect a child’s appearance, movement, development, hearing, vision, learning abilities, and more. Some birth defects are easily recognizable at birth, like cleft palate or cleft lip, while others require special tests for diagnosis, like heart and lung defects. Among the birth defects researchers have linked to the anticonvulsant Depakote are:
While some birth defects are caused by genetic factors and are therefore, regrettably, unavoidable, birth defects caused by maternal use of pharmaceutical drugs can be prevented by simply making women aware of this risk. This duty falls upon healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies alike, who are responsible for providing patients and consumers with accurate information about drug side effects and the potential for certain medications, like Depakote, to interfere with fetal development. Studies have shown that one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect, and this statistic, while alarming, is also eye-opening. And this public health problem doesn’t only apply to pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, which means all women of childbearing age should be aware of the pregnancy risks of certain medications, should they unintentionally become pregnant while taking the drug. Most birth defects occur within the first three months of pregnancy, which means all women between the ages of 18 and 35 taking a pharmaceutical drug may be at risk of exposing their unborn child to irreversible harm before they are even aware they are pregnant. If you took a prescription drug while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect, contact a knowledgeable birth defect attorney today to discuss your legal options.