Possible risk of birth defects with seizure medicines


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the increased risk of birth defects in babies if their mothers are taking valproate and related medicines, such as valproic acid and divalproex sodium (brand names include Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakote Sprinkle, Depacon, Depakene, and Stavzor) during their pregnancy.

Valproate and related medicines are usually used to treat seizures. The medicines also treat mood disorders and severe migraine headaches. Women of childbearing age who are taking this medicine and planning to get pregnant should talk to their doctors about using other medicines, especially if it is not being used to treat life-threatening seizures. Women who can get pregnant should only use valproate and related products if it is essential to manage their condition. However, the medicine should never be stopped without talking to the doctor who prescribed the medicine. Those who are not actively planning a pregnancy should use effective contraception, as birth defect risks are high during the first few months of pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking valproate or a related product, contact your doctor immediately. You can enroll in the North American Antiepileptic Drug (NAAED) Pregnancy Registry by calling 1-888-233-2334 or by visiting www.aedpregnancyregistry.org. The registry is used to determine which seizure medications can be taken by women during pregnancy.

Created on February 1, 2010

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