In women who take valproate while pregnant, around 1 in 10 babies will have a birth defect. ¹
Birth defects seen when mothers take valproate during pregnancy include: ¹
- spina bifida (where the bones of the spine do not develop properly)
- facial and skull malformations (including cleft lip and palate, where the upper lip or facial bones are split)
- malformations of the limbs, heart, kidney, urinary tract and sexual organs.
In women who take valproate while pregnant, about 3–4 children in every 10 may have developmental problems. The long-term effects are not known. ¹
The effects on development can include: ¹
- being late in learning to walk and talk
- lower intelligence than other children of the same age
- poor speech and language skills
- memory problems.
Children exposed to valproate in the womb are more likely to have autism or autistic spectrum disorders. There is also some evidence children may be more likely to be at risk of developing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ¹