New Study Shows That Depakote Use May Increase Risk Of Spina Bifida By Six Times

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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A new study reports that children born to women who take folate-blocking and folate-lowering drugs such as Depakote (valproic acid) during pregnancy have a six times greater chance of developing Spina Bifida and brain defects and double the chance of developing neural tube, cardiovascular and urinary tract birth defects.

Depakote study

The new study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, was conducted by researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University. They analyzed the medical records and prescriptions of nearly 85,000 mothers whose children were born at the Soroka Medical Center in Beer-Shiva, Israel. What they found was shocking. The children born to mothers who were given folate-blocking and folate-lowering drugs during their pregnancies had a six times greater chance of developing Spina Bifida and brain defects and double the chance of developing neural tube, cardiovascular and urinary tract birth defects.

Several other studies have come to the same conclusion and others have reported on different types of injuries. For example, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that children born to mothers who took Depakote while pregnant have lower I. Q.s. However, Depakote isn’t the only folate blocking or lowering drug with dangerous side effects.

Dangerous folate-blocking and folate-lowering drugs

According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, folate helps produce and maintain new cells which is important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. The following drugs prevent folate from being converted into active metabolites:

  • Trimethoprim (marketed as Proloprim, Triprim and Monoprim),
  • Sulfasalazine (marketed as Azulfadine and Salazopyrin)
  • Methotrexate

The following anti-epileptic drugs lower folate serum and tissue concentrations:

  • Carbamazepine (marketed as Tegretol and Carbatrol)
  • Cholestyramine (marketed as Questran and Cholybar)
  • Lamotrigine (marketed as Lamictal)
  • Phenobarbital (marketed as Luminal)
  • Phenytoin (marketed as Phenytek and Dilantin)
  • Valproic acid (marketed as Depakote)

FDA warning / Depakote lawsuits

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a black box warning for Depakote in October 2006 and Depakote lawyers say that numerous lawsuits have been filed against manufacturer Abbott Laboratories – which also markets Depakote ER, Depakote Sprinkles, Depacon, Stavzor and divalproex sodium, a generic version of the drug.

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