Around 800 lawsuits have been filed for babies with birth defects caused by Depakote, an anti-seizure drug linked to a 2,060% increased risk of spina bifida. Studies estimate that at least 20% of women who take Depakote during pregnancy have a baby with a birth defect, cleft lip / palate, or heart defect.
Jury Awards $38 Million in Depakote Birth Defect Lawsuit
In June 2015, a jury in St. Louis, Missouri awarded $38 million to the family of a girl who was born with numerous birth defects, including spina bifida, after her mother used the anti-seizure drug Depakote during pregnancy. Abbott Laboratories appealed the verdict and asked for a new trial. However, in November 2016, judges in Missouri rejected the appeal and allowed the jury verdict to survive.
Abbott Laboratories Wins Ohio Depakote Trial
In February 2017, a federal jury in Ohio refused to award damages to a boy who was born with microcephaly (abnormally small skull) and intellectual disabilities after being exposed to Depakote in the womb. Abbott Laboratories was cleared on all charges of wrongdoing. Lawsuits involving “developmental delays” have not been very successful because Abbott tried to warn about the risk in 2005, but the FDA rejected those warnings until 2009. This is why “failure to warn” claims are federally preempted.
Depakote and Pregnancy
Depakote and Depakote ER are popular medications used to treat epilepsy, bipolar disorder, major depression, migraine headaches and schizophrenia. However, according to the FDA, the drugs can cause serious birth defects. The National Institute of Health estimates that women who take these medications while pregnant have a three times higher rate of babies born with major birth defects than women who do not take the drugs.
What is the Risk?
The most common birth defect associated with use of Depakote and Depakote ER is spina bifida, although other neural tube, craniofacial, and cardiovascular defects are common as well. A smaller number of skeletal and limb defects and “valproate syndrome” cases have also been reported. Cognitive impairment has also been reported in children whose mothers took these medications while pregnant. These defects occur during the first trimester of pregnancy and occur more frequently in women taking higher doses.
Depakote Birth Defects
- Neural tube birth defects (spina bifida)
- Craniofacial defects
- Cardiovascular malformations
- Cognitive impairment
- Valproate Syndrome
- Limb and skeletal defects
- Other serious birth defects