Depakote as a Possible Cause of Hydranencephaly

No specific study links Depakote to hydranencephaly. However, studies on the effects of valproic acid on the developing fetus strongly suggest that the drug may have caused at least some cases of hydranencephaly.

Hydranencephaly is a rare neural tube defect characterized by the absence of the cerebral hemispheres. In its place is a sac-like membrane containing cerebrospinal fluid. In most cases, the brain stem and basal ganglia are intact. Researchers believe that the condition develops when the fetal brain sustains damage after it has developed from blood flow interruption, resulting in cell death and the eventual resorption of necrotic tissue by the body. This may be due to a stroke, or the death of a twin in the womb. According to the website of Williams Kherkher, there is some speculation that Depakote may have something to do with it as mothers taking the drug since 1995 were unaware of the risks they were taking.

DNA damage to valproic acid exposure in utero is strongly indicated in a study on neural tube defects. Though this is mostly due to fetal exposure in the first trimester, it is possible that some children that managed to develop normally through their first trimester suffered a setback in the second and third trimester, at which point the developed brain is susceptible cell damage.

A majority of those with hydranencephaly do not survive their first year, although there are a few that do. The typical hydranencephalic baby looks just like any baby with a normally developed brain, and the condition may not be diagnosed for months, or misdiagnosed. As the baby grows, the symptoms of hydranencephaly may present as irritability, difficulty in sucking, and seizures. Many are visually and cognitively impaired, but most respond readily to stimuli.

Life care of a hydranencephalic child is challenging, but infinitely preferable to early death. If your child was born with a neural tube defect, it may be due to Depakote. Consult with an experienced dangerous drugs attorney in your area to learn more about Depakote and its side effects.