Maternal use of antiepileptic drugs is well-known to be associated with elevated risks of major congenital malformations in offspring.  When compared to the general public, the risk for congenital malformations in the offspring of women on antiepileptic medication is roughly 4 to 6 percents, twice as likely as women not on AEDs.  Author Yerby MS from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University, North Pacific Epilepsy Research Center in Portland, wrote an article called “Management issues for women with epilepsy: neural tube defects and folic acid supplementation”, where he states “a particular association of valproate and carbamazepine with neural tube defects (NTDs)–specifically, with spina bifida aperta (SB)–has been identified. The [overall] prevalence of SB is approximately 1 to 2% with valproate exposure and 0.5% with carbamazepine. Reported risk factors for NTDs include previous pregnancy with an NTD, maternal insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, various nutritional deficiencies and occupational exposures, and high prepregnancy weight.”

One common side-effect of antiepileptic drugs is inhibiting the absorption rate of folic acid in the body. (Folic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in foods such spinach and sunflower seeds.) Yerby MS. further explains that “Deficiencies of folate have been implicated in the development of birth defects, including NTDs. The value of periconceptional folic acid supplementation for women in the general population is accepted. However, it is unclear whether folic acid supplementation protects against the embryotoxic and teratogenic effects of AEDs because animal and human studies and case reports have shown variable results.”  Despite some questions that still remain as to the effectiveness of a folic acid regiment, most doctors recommend epileptic women who are pregnant to stay on the regiment for the duration of their pregnancy.

One AED containing valproate found to be highly associated with an increased risk for birth defects is Depacon.  Depacon (also Depakene, Depakote) is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, and it is the responsibility of that company to make clear to users any and all risks associated with its products.  Sadly, Abbott failed to make clear those risks and a number of women used Depacon during pregnancy, unaware of the risk for birth defects posed to their developing baby.

If you used Depacon during pregnancy and your child was born with a cogenital malformation, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation for the undue injury sustained by your child and family.  For a free, no-obligation case consultation, do not hesitate to contact our team of Depacon lawyers at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at

Our Depacon Lawsuit Information page is a great place to start if you have any questions about Depacon.