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FDA Warns Against Depakote Use for Migraines During Pregnancy

Filed May 13th, 2013 Joshua Sophy

Federal health officials have issued a warning to women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant about a serious risk associated with Depakote, a drug often prescribed to treat migraine headaches.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that the drug, which is also an anti-seizure medication, is often prescribed to epileptics, may lower a child’s IQ by 8 to 11 points if it is taken during pregnancy. In addition to the prevention of seizures caused by epilepsy, Depakote is also prescribed to allay migraine headaches, according to a local Fox News report.

Regulators advise women taking Depakote that they should also be taking a birth control pill at the same time to avoid a potentially complicated pregnancy period. When Depakote is used during a pregnancy, its risks, namely the risk of lowering a baby’s IQ when born to a mother who took Depakote, outweigh any benefits, the FDA believes.

Officially, the FDA has moved Depakote from a Category D drug to Category X, which means the risks are greater than any benefits realized by taking the drug.

This latest warning from the FDA adds to an already dangerous profile for valproic acid drugs like Depakote, especially when they’re taken during pregnancy. Depakote and other valproic acid drugs have previously been linked to other birth defects in children when the mother takes them while carrying her child. Based on our previous accounts, Depakote and other drugs like it have been linked to birth defects like spina bifida, cleft palate, and other complications.

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