A Mother’s Worst Nightmare: Depakote’s Real Risk for Birth Defects

It’s the nightmare that supersedes all nightmares: a mother exposing her unborn child to harm. This is especially true when the harm is caused by a prescription medication for which there may be safer alternatives.

We often discuss the increased risk of pharmaceutical devices and drugs to women, and especially to women in different significant stages of their reproductive life. One particularly dangerous-to-pregnant-women prescription drug to be aware of is Depakote.

The known risks to fetal development that result from taking Depakote while pregnant are so well documented and understood, it is an outrage the manufacturer of the drug did not take more steps to ensure that women who are or could become pregnant would avoid using the drug.

Especially when it comes to mothers and their children, we think: Enough is enough!  It is long past time to force pharmaceutical companies to plainly and clearly admit when their drugs are dangerous to particularly sensitive populations of patients.

Here’s what you need to know about Depakote and women of childbearing age:

Depakote is an antiseizure or anticonvulsant medication that helps to manage brain activity by balancing neurotransmitters in the brain. Depakote is used to treat epilepsy, several types of seizures, as well as the acute manic phase of bipolar disorder.

For almost a decade, the FDA has warned patients and doctors about a severe increased risk to women of childbearing age of birth defects as a result of Depakote usage during pregnancy.

Birth defects associated with taking Depakote during pregnancy include:

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  • Anencephaly
  • Abnormal Digits
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Cleft Lip and Palate
  • Club Foot
  • Club Hands/Fingers
  • Craniostenosis/Craniosynostosis
  • Dysmorphism
  • Hydranencephaly
  • Hydrocephaly
  • Scoliosis
  • Spina Bifida
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Valporate Syndrome
  • Ventricular Septal Defects
  • Other cardiac or neural tube defects


Because of these significant birth defects, the FDA issued a Black Box warning for Depakote in 2006 advising doctors and patients of the risk of certain birth defects such as spina bifida, heart defects and others.

But what about the women who were using Depakote before the warnings appeared?  What about the women who were encouraged to use Depakote despite the warnings?

You may have legal options if you or a mother you know took the drug Depakote while pregnant and had a child with a birth defect. Please contact our Depakote lawyer at 866-520-2755 or email us here.

We encourage you to share this information with the mothers and pregnant women in your life.

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