Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) have many unwanted and many times unpreventable side effects.  Some of these unwanted side effects are the teratogenic effects these AEDs are known to have.  Teratogenic abnormalities are commonly known as “birth defects, “ which are damages caused to a fetus or embryo.  Experiments done on both animals and humans have shown a connection between gestational folate deficiency with growth and development, folate deficiency has been suggested as a supposed instrument for the teratogenic effects of antiepileptic drugs.

One way AEDs work is to reduce the body’s ability to absorb folate.  Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that is naturally found in some foods, such as spinach and sunflower seeds.  In an article from the Neurogenetics Unit, Montreal Neurological Hospital and Institute, Quebec, Canada, titled “Mechanisms of Teratogenesis: Folic acid and Antiepileptic therapy”, Author Dansky LV. writes, “Animal studies have shown that the administration of AEDs results in folate depletion and teratogenic effects. Attempts to prevent the teratogenic effects of AEDs by coadministration of folate have shown variable results, perhaps because of a lack of understanding about the specific effects of AEDs on folate metabolism.”

There is a high demand for more, comprehensive studies to be done on the newer generation of antiepileptic drugs.  The “Mechanisms of Teratogensis” study showed that blood folate levels decreased with greater AED levels, which means that the ability of the body to absorb folate was harshly decreased when exposed to high levels of antiepileptic drugs.

An association was then found between low blood folate levels before and/or early in pregnancy and cases of spontaneous abortion and of developmental anomalies in the children, corroborating the findings of other studies suggesting that in utero exposure to AED polytherapy may increase the chances of major congenital malformations (MCMs).

Most doctors would recommend monotherapy during an epileptic women’s pregnancy, however this is not always possible due to the fact that some women do not have epilepsy that is able to be controlled by just one drug, but many times, polytherapy is the only reasonable option for the mother.

In conclusion, the findings in the Danksy et al. study are encouraging and can help the medical world develop treatments that may prevent the occurrence of abnormal pregnancy outcomes in women with epilepsy.

The Danksy et al. study may also be used in a Depacon lawsuit.  Because Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Depacon (a widely-used AED) has failed to warn women of the risk for birth defects associated with Depacon use, a number of Depacon lawsuits are currently being filed.

If you or a loved one used Depacon during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, do not hesitate to contact our team of Depacon lawyers, for your family may be entitled to significant financial compensation.

For more information on Depacon, or for a free, no-obligation case consultation please feel free to contact our offices by phone at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at at your convenience.  We are here to help!

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