Depakote is a widely prescribed drug that has developed broad usage for two distinct medical conditions. One is bipolar disorder; in this instance Depakote is prescribed to help control the manic condition that can develop as a symptom. The other use for Depakote that is common is for the control of seizures. Depakote is classed as an anticonvulsant, often prescribed for pediatric epilepsy.
Depakote Lawsuits over Birth Defects
A strong body of evidence has developed that suggests anticonvulsants can have serious impact on the children born to mothers who take these medications while pregnant. According to a study conducted among five Massachusetts hospitals, twenty percent of children born to women who had taken an anticonvulsant during pregnancy suffered birth defects. The research was based on examination of one thousand single births over a period of seven years.
Other alarming evidence emerging from this study indicated that mothers who had taken more than one antidepressant during pregnancy suffered a birth defect rate of 28%. The percentage of major birth defects in the overall control group was 8.5 percent.
Depakote was the most widely utilized anticonvulsant for many years. Because it has been used for bipolar disorder, it is also often prescribed along with antidepressants. The startling frequency of major birth defects reflected in this study has led to a steady stream of both single and class action lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturers of Depakote.
An article published in the medical journal Neurology in 2006 described research that showed mothers who took Depakote for seizure control during pregnancy were more likely to have babies with birth defects than women who took other anticonvulsive drugs. As more evidence has developed regarding the relationship between Depakote and birth defects, legal activity has focused primarily on this specific medication and less so on other drugs designed to prevent convulsions.
Examples of potential birth defects that result from the use of Depakote include:
- Cleft palate
- Hand deformations
- Heart malformations
- Spina Bifida
- Skeletal defects
- Neural tube malformations
- Growth retardation
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