The FDA has recently issued an alert about the dangers of exposing pregnant women to valproate sodium commonly sold under the name Depakote. Depakote, Depacon, Depakene and Stavzor, are drugs most frequently used for the treatment of seizures, such as those associated with epilepsy, although they are also prescribed for the treatment of manic-depressives, for individuals suffering from migraines, and for other off-label conditions.
The dangers associated with the use of Depakote, such as liver failure and suicidal thoughts, are well known. However, Depakote has also been linked to various kinds of birth defects, including defects in development of a child’s brain, spinal cord, face, heart, or blood vessels.
The FDA has issued several guidelines for Depakote use. Women taking the drug who do not plan to become pregnant are urged to use effective birth control. Women who wish to become pregnant, are urged to contact their doctors immediately. However, women taking Depakote are advised not to simply stop taking it, even if they are pregnant, because suddenly stopping a regime of valproate drugs can cause serious problems.