New Large-Scale Study: Epilepsy Drug Valproate Greatly Increases Risks of Autism

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A new Danish study on nearly 700,000 babies has found that women who take the epilepsy drug valproate during pregnancy are three times more likely to have a child with some form of autism.

While earlier studies have found increased risks of birth defects associated with mothers who took the drug, the new results represent the strongest link between valproate and autism to date.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in 88 children have an autism spectrum disorder, which ranges from autism itself to Asperger's syndrome.

Using a large drug database, the new study tracked 656,000 children born in Denmark between 1996 and 2006 and found that about 6,600 of their mothers had epilepsy and 508 of them took valproate while pregnant.

By 2010, 4.4 percent of the children whose mothers had taken the drug were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, the study found. That was nearly triple the 1.5 percent of all the children studied who had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

"For women of childbearing potential who use anti-epileptic medications, these findings must be balanced against the treatment benefits for women who require valproate for epilepsy control," researchers concluded in their report published in the April 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

But researchers added that "because autism spectrum disorders are serious conditions with lifelong implications for affected children and their families, even a moderate increase in risk may have major health importance."

The Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Ross Feller Casey, LLP have successfully handled cases involving all types of birth-related injuries, and stand out as the recognized legal experts throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey for such cases. Noteworthy results include:
•    $22 million verdict in a birth injury lawsuit in New Jersey involving blood arriving late for a transfusion
•    $12 million recovery in a Philadelphia birth injury case
•    $8.5 million settlement for parents of a child injured in a neonatal intensive care unit
•    $8 million settlement for a brain injury in Philadelphia suffered by a child due to a delay in delivery
•    $7 million recovery for a child left with cerebral palsy as a result of obstetrical negligence
•    $7 million settlement for a woman who died just after delivering a baby
•    $6 million settlement in a very conservative Pennsylvania county for an infant who suffered brain damage because a nurse midwife and nurses failed to manage fetal distress during labor
•    $5.5 million recovery for a child who was brain injured at birth because an obstetrician failed to recognize signs of placental abruption
•    $5.5 million settlement for the family of a 23-year-old Pennsylvania woman who died after giving birth to her daughter

For more information about the Philadelphia Birth Injury Lawyers at Ross Feller Casey, go to www.rossfellercasey.com/practice-areas/birth-neonatal-injuries/

Disclaimer - Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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