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FDA warns pregnant women against taking Valproate medications

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Pregnant women should be very careful when consulting the internet to gauge the safety of taking certain drugs during pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns. The warning comes a recent report by the Federal Drug Administration cautions that one set of drugs – the Valproate products commonly used to treat migraines or seizures – can lead to lower IQ in children whose mother's took the drug while pregnant.

Valproate medications should never be used in pregnant women for the prevention of migraine headaches because we have even more data now that show the risks to the children outweigh any treatment benefits for this use,” said Russell Katz, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

All drugs that contain the Valproate medication already carry a warning of fetal defect. Yet the FDA's renewed, and "strengthened" warning, comes as further evidence of lower IQ was discovered through its Neurodevelopmental Effects of Antiepileptic Drugs study.

The FDA study found that when compared to children who had been exposed to antiepileptic drugs in utero, children exposed to valproate products had a lower IQ at age 6. That IQ difference was as much as 11 points.

The CDC said more than 90 percent of women take medications while pregnant – and half of those aged 18-44 look for health information on the internet. The CDC strongly urges consulting a physician about all medications when pregnant, rather than the internet.