New Study Links Depakote Use in Pregnancy to Increase Risk of Autism in Children

May 24, 2014
by Adler Markoff & Associates

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    New Study Links Depakote Use in Pregnancy to Increase Risk of Autism in Children

    The findings of a new study lend further support to mounting evidence linking the use of Depakote in pregnancy to autism in children exposed to the anticonvulsant medication in utero. According to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on April 24, pregnant women taking valproate, an epilepsy drug found in Depakote and other anticonvulsant medications, may be three times as likely to give birth to a child with an autism spectrum disorder, compared to women who do not take the drug. If your child suffers from an autism spectrum disorder or another serious side effect, and you believe the anticonvulsant Depakote to be the cause, contact our experienced lawyers at AMA Law to discuss your possible compensation options.


    In the latest study, Danish researchers examined data on all children born in Denmark between 1996 and 2006. According to their findings, of the nearly 656,000 children born during that time period, 5,437 were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, including 2,067 with childhood autism. The study authors found that 508 of the mothers had taken Depakote or another valproate-containing medication while pregnant, and 4.4% of them had a child who was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder by 2010. This figure is compared to only 1.5% of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder who were born to women who did not take the anticonvulsant medication.


    Depakote was approved for consumer use in the United States in 1978 as a treatment for certain forms of epilepsy, and has since become one of the most widely-used anticonvulsant drugs in the country. Unfortunately, research published in recent years has linked Depakote use in pregnancy to a variety of devastating side effects in exposed children, including birth defects like spina bifida, malformed limbs, skeletal malformations, cleft palate, heart defects and urinary tract problems. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a “black box” warning to the Depakote label, notifying consumers about the potential risk of birth defects associated with Depakote use in pregnancy. Depakote is also considered a pregnancy category D medication, which means positive human evidence has shown that the drug may cause serious harm to a fetus when taken during pregnancy.


    The JAMA Depakote study echoes findings reported earlier this year by British researchers, who indicated that women who took Depakote while pregnant were six times more likely to give birth to a child with developmental disorders, the most common being autism. In light of these findings, an increasing number of parents throughout the U.S. are now pursuing a Depakote lawsuit against drug maker Abbott Laboratories, claiming that the drug company failed to warn consumers about the risk of life-altering birth defects associated with Depakote use in pregnancy. If you took Depakote while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect or another side effect, consult our reputable attorneys at AMA Law today.

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