American Epilepsy Society Announces Position Statement on Valproate Use in Women of Childbearing Potential

R. Edward Hogan, MD, David G. Vossler, MD

The American Epilepsy Society (AES) president, R. Edward Hogan, MD, recently shared important information about the serious risks associated with use of valproate (valproic acid, divalproex) by women of childbearing potential, as highlighted in the updated AES Position Statement on the Use of Valproate by Women of Childbearing Potential.

Valproate is prescribed across a diverse range of specialties and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder and for migraine headache prophylaxis.

The updated AES position statement highlights specific warnings related to significant risk of fetal teratogenicity and risk of decreased IQ and other neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, in children exposed to valproate in utero, and a contraindication to its use for migraine prevention in pregnant women and women of childbearing potential not using effective contraception.

The statement cites evidence that increased awareness of these important considerations for women of childbearing potential correlates to reduced fetal exposure and risks. Based on this evidence and the epilepsy care experience, AES encourages provider conversations with patients to mitigate these risks, reduce in utero valproate exposure, and promote safe and effective treatment for women of childbearing potential.

AES Council on Clinical Activities Chair David G. Vossler, MD, cited this AES position statement as an important extension of the ongoing work of the Council’s Treatments Committee to monitor and inform AES members about important Drug News and FDA Alerts related to care of people with epilepsy. •