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High Doses of Depakote in Pregnant Women Linked to Birth Defects

Filed August 26th, 2013 Laurie

According to the Herald Sun, a research team at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia has discovered a link between high doses of the common epilepsy drug Depakote (valproate) and two specific types of birth defects.

According to the hospital’s epilepsy specialist and head of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Medicine, professor Terry O’Brien, Depakote increases the risk of spina bifida and hypospadias. Spina bifida is a defect of the spine and the spinal column, according to the Herald Sun. Hypospadias is a condition in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis, according to

In a study of 1,700 women, researchers found that 80 percent of the babies born with spina bifida or hypospadias had been exposed to Depakote. The study also revealed that the higher the dose of the drug, the greater the risk of defects. O’Brien and his colleagues noted in their research, published in the journal American Academy of Neurology, that reducing the Depakote dosage during the first trimester of pregnancy might be the answer to controlling a woman’s seizures without increasing the risk of birth defects, the Herald Sun reported.


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