All pregnancies are associated with some levels of risk, but women with epilepsy have an increased risk of complications and an increased incidence of major congenital malformations in their offspring. Antiepileptic drugs are shown to have damaging effects on a developing fetus due to their ability to cross the placenta and reach pharmacologically significant concentrations in the fetus. Click here to read a 2002 FDA statement about the danger of AEDs during pregnancy.
Author M. Semczuk wrote an article called “Effect of Antiepileptic Drugs on Human Placenta and the Fetus”, where the author claims “Although the pathomechanism of teratogenicity of AEDs is complex and not well understood, a AEDs–dependent folate deficiency is thought as crucial. The reasons may also theoretically include a primary effect of AEDs on placental function and morphology. In the own study on perfused human placental cotyledon, only toxic concentrations of valproic acid caused morphological changes in placental tissue, including microvascular degeneration of cytoplasm, atrophy of syncytiotrophoblast, colliquative necrosis of some mesenchymal cells. The toxic but not therapeutic dose of valproic acid influenced also hormonal function of placenta by lowering of chorionic gonadotrophin concentration in perfusate.” (emphasis added)
Folic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in foods such as sunflower seeds and spinach. Many doctors recommend their patients start a folic acid regiment before and during their pregnancies. This may help fight the inhibiting of folic acid absorption caused by AEDs. Author Semczuk M. further explains “Although a knowledge about an influence of AEDs on the placenta and fetus is not complete, the use of these drugs during pregnancy may be more safe. If a dosage of AEDs in pregnant women with epilepsy is reduced to a reasonable minimum and the monotherapy is preferred, the risk of congenital malformations in their offspring can be minimized.”
Many articles such as the one summarized above can go great length to demonstrate in a court of law that AED manufacturers knew or should have known the risks associated with their products. Studies published in peer-reviewed journals such as the one above do not go unnoticed by pharmaceutical manufacturers; some companies even hire people to scour medical literature for information pertaining to their drugs.
Due to the fact that the warning labels for many AEDs do not sufficiently describe the risk for birth defects, AED lawsuits, particularly Depacon lawsuits, are being filed around the world. Depacon is an AED containing sodium valproate, a chemical highly associated with birth defects. If you or a loved one used Depacon or another AED during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, you may be eligible to file a Depacon lawsuit for compensation for the undue injury suffered by your family.
For more information, contact our team of Depacon lawyers at the information provided below. We have the skills, resources, and experience required to win the justice you deserve.