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American Epilepsy Society Issues Updated Information on the Risks of Valproate Use in Women of Childbearing Potential

February 09, 2022

The American Epilepsy Society (AES) has asked for the assistance of ACCP in sharing important information about use of valproate by women of childbearing potential. Valproate is approved by the FDA for the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder and for migraine headache prophylaxis, but is also prescribed off-label for anxiety and other conditions. With the potential for prescribing by providers in several medical specialties, AES is encouraging the widespread dissemination of its recently updated Position Statement on the Use of Valproate by Women of Childbearing Potential.

The updated statement summarizes FDA warnings about the significant risks of fetal teratogenicity when valproate is prescribed to women of childbearing potential as well as more recent warnings regarding the risks for decreased IQ and other neurodevelopmental disorders in children who were exposed to valproate in utero. In addition, the update reminds clinicians that use of valproate for migraine prevention in pregnant women and women of childbearing potential not using effective contraception is contraindicated. With new evidence that increased patient awareness about the risks related to valproate in women of childbearing potential correlates to reduced fetal exposure, AES hopes to encourage healthcare providers to have conversations with patients about mitigating these risks, reducing in utero valproate exposure, and promoting safe and effective treatment for women of childbearing potential.


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