Side Effects: Spina Bifida, Cleft Palate, Malformations

Use of the anti-seizure drug Depakote during pregnancy has been linked to a number of major birth defects, including spina bifida, abnormal skull shapes, cleft palates and holes in the heart. These defects can lead to life-long health and quality of life problems for children.

Contact Our Lawyers to Review anBIRTH DEFECT LAWSUIT

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

*By submitting, you authorize Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. to send text messages to the numbers provided, including information & offers, possibly using automated technology. Message/data rates apply. Consent is not a condition for acceptance of services.
Saiontz & Kirk, PA, Attorneys & Lawyers, Baltimore, MD

Financial compensation may be available through a lawsuit for Depakote birth defects as a result of the drug maker’s failure to warn about the risks during pregnancy. The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential cases for children throughout the United States. Request a free Depokote birth defect consultation and case evaluation.


In 2010, European researchers published the results of a study whose findings indicate that Depakote increases the risk of birth defects when taken as early as the first trimester of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.

Researchers found that taking Depakote resulted in a 12-fold increased risk of spina bifida, a 7-fold increased risk of craniosynostosis (abnormal skull), a five-fold increased risk of cleft palate, and 2.5 times the risk of the baby developing an atrial septal defect (a hole in the heart).

Depakote birth defect lawsuits are being reviewed for children born with the following defects or malformations:

  • Spina Bifida
  • Head and Brain Malformation
  • Arm or Leg Deformities
  • Missing or Extra Fingers or Toes
  • Deformed Head or Face
  • Cleft Palate
  • Holes in the Heart Walls
  • Mental Disability
  • Low IQ
  • Autism
  • Cephalic Disorder

▸ Depakote Spina Bifida Side Effects

Spina bifida occurs when the infant’s vertebrae do not completely form, leaving the spinal cord unfused and open. This can allow a portion of the spinal cord to protrude through the bones. Spina bifida occurs at the end of the first month of pregnancy and can lead to the spinal cord and other organs even pushing through an opening in the back during pregnancy.

As a result of spina bifida from Depakote, a child can suffer severe nerve damage, paralysis, the accumulation of dangerous fluids in the brain, and other problems, including an allergy to latex. While the defect itself can be corrected with surgery, there is no cure for the nerve damage and paralysis that may occur.

There are two forms of spina bifida; spina bifida occulta is the most mild form of the defect, where the hole in the spine is hidden and the nerve is not very exposed. This results in the spinal cord often being unaffected. The second form, spina manifesta, occurs when the spinal cord or meninges (the membrane protecting the spinal cord and the brain, pushes through the unformed hole in the spine.

▸ Depakote Skull Malformation Side Effects

Craniosynostosis, or an abnormal skull from Depakote, occurs when an infant’s skull fuses incorrectly, limiting skull and brain growth. This means that as the child’s brain grows, it grows into the unfused portions of the skull, resulting in abnormal head and face shape. In some cases, the defect results in pressure on the brain, causing developmental delays. To correct the Depakote birth defect, a child often must undergo surgery to separate the fused portions of the skull and reshape it.

▸ Depakote Cleft Palate Side Effects

A Depakote cleft palate is a congenital deformation that results when the child’s face does not develop correctly during pregnancy, resulting in the hard palate at the roof of the mouth not completely joining. The hole often causes a facial defect and leaves a hole between the mouth and the nasal cavity. The defect can be treated by reconstructive surgery, which may be required a number of times throughout life.

▸ Depakote Heart Problems for Children

An atrial septal defect (ASD), or hole in the heart from Depakote, allows blood to flow between the left and right atria of the heart. This lets oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood travel between the two sides of the heart and can result in hypertension, heart failure, reduced endurance, strokes and other problems. The problem can be corrected through heart surgery.

▸ Depakote Mental Disabilities, Developmental Problems

A number of studies have also linked Depakote side effects to developmental delay, decreased intelligence, an increased risk of autism and other cognitive problems. Some studies have found that the higher the dosage given to a pregnant women, the more likely her child will suffer developmental problems with verbal abilities, memory skills and executive function.

Other studies have found that taking Depakote while pregnant could increase the risk of giving birth to a child with autism by a factor of six. The risk could be increased tenfold if Depakote is taken in combination with other drugs.


Although the drug maker knew or should have known about these risks, women were not provided adequate warnings about the risk of birth defects from Depakote, causing many children to suffer devastating malformations and other problems.

Depakote birth defect lawsuits are being reviewed for individuals throughout the United States. The Depakote attorneys at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. provide free consultations and claim evaluations to help determine if compensation may be available for you or a family member diagnosed with spina bifida, cleft palate, abnormal skull development or other birth defects from Depakote. All cases are reviewed on a contingency fee basis, which means that there are no fees or expenses unless a recovery is obtained.