Why a Widely Used Drug Causes Birth Defects and Autism

Researchers discovered how valproic acid, a medication commonly used to treat epilepsy, migraines, and bipolar disorder, causes birth defects when taken during pregnancy.

Researchers determined that valproic acid prevents nervous system cells from properly developing and dividing

When used during pregnancy, the drug valproic acid, which is used to treat bipolar disorder, migraines, and epilepsy, can lead to birth defects. Now, research recently published in the journal PLoS Biology by Bill Keyes of the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology, France, and associates gives one explanation for why: Valproic acid (VPA) causes certain nervous system development cells to enter a condition known as senescence, which prevents them from properly growing and dividing.

VPA is frequently used to treat a variety of diseases. However, since its first use, there have been many instances of pregnant women using VPA giving birth to kids who had birth abnormalities such as spina bifida, facial changes, and heart malformations. A third of exposed newborns also develop cognitive decline and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Three mouse embryos, representative of the study that describes how the teratogenic drug Valproic acid can cause neurodevelopmental birth defects in mice, including microcephaly and exencephaly. The embryo on the left is a normal embryo, with no exposure to Valproic acid. The embryo in the middle is smaller and has microcephaly, while the embryo on the right exhibits exencephaly. The middle embryo and the one on the right were both exposed to Valproic acid. Credit: Muriel Rhinn (CC-BY 4.0)

Keyes and colleagues examined embryonic exposure to VPA in the new study by using both human organoids—three-dimensional collections of human cells generated in the lab—and mice. They found that neuroepithelial cells, which are the stem cells that give rise to the central nervous system, undergo cellular senescence as a result of VPA. The researchers also identified p19Arf as the specific molecule that caused this VPA-induced senescence. Although VPA exposure during pregnancy still resulted in other abnormalities, the scientists found that it no longer produced microcephaly (a small head size) or alterations to gene expression patterns linked to autism spectrum disorder in mice missing the p19Arf gene.

Valproic acid is used to treat the manic phase of bipolar disorder, seizures, and migraine headaches. This prescription medication goes by various brand names including Depakene, Depakote, Depakote DR, Depakote ER, Depakote Sprinkles, Stavzor, and Alti-Valproic.

The work is one of the first to associate cellular senescence with developmental defects, the authors say. “Overall, the discovery that atypical activation of senescence in the embryo can perturb development raises the intriguing possibility that it may also contribute to defects in developmental contexts beyond those we studied here.”

Muriel Rhinn, the first author of the study, adds, “While cellular senescence has long been associated with aging and age-related disease, we now show that aberrant induction of senescence can also contribute to developmental defects. As valproic acid is strongly linked to cognitive defects and Autism Spectrum Disorder, this study now introduces an exciting link with senescence, supporting how additional studies are needed.”

This study was funded by grants from La Fondation pour la Recherche Medicale (FRM) (AJE20160635985), Fondation ARC pour la Recherche sur le Cancer (PJA20181208104), IDEX Attractivité – University of Strasbourg (IDEX2017), La Fondation Schlumberger pour l’Education et la Recherche FSER 19 (Year 2018)/FRM, Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) (ANR-19-CE13-0023-03) and Ligue Contre le Cancer (all to W.M.K.). I.Z.B. was supported by a 4th-year fellowship from the Fondation ARC pour la Recherche sur le Cancer and a Ph.D. fellowship from INSERM and Conseil Regional Grand-Est. A.K. was supported by a fellowship from Eur IMCBiO. The work was also supported by an institutional grant to the IGBMC, ANR-10-LABX-0030-INRT, a French State fund managed by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche under the frame program Investissements d’Avenir ANR-10-IDEX-0002-02. Sequencing was performed by the GenomEast platform, a member of the “France Génomique” consortium (ANR-10-INBS-0009). The funders had no role in the study’s design, data collection, and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Reference: “Aberrant induction of p19Arf-mediated cellular senescence contributes to neurodevelopmental defects” by Muriel Rhinn, Irene Zapata-Bodalo, Annabelle Klein, Jean-Luc Plassat, Tania Knauer-Meyer and William M. Keyes, 14 June 2022, PLoS Biology.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001664

Autism Spectrum DisorderBirthCell BiologyCellsDrugsGeneticsMedicinePopularPregnancy
Comments ( 97 )
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  • Monica

    This is BS.There are kods born woth Autism that the mom was meber on meds

  • Doctor Guh

    @Monica…well DUH!!! This medicine just makes it more likely to develop. Please learn to read.

  • Sheri

    My kid has been diagnosed with autism since the age of three and I’ve never taken anything but prenatal vitamins. He’s 20 now and actually takes Depakote for seizures which developed in his teens. There is no known cause for autism so this doesn’t seem plausible

    • Amber

      Please know Depakote kills sperm at 750mg or higher daily. Your son will be unable to conceive on this medication. It’s very hard to switch medicines as an adult with a career. He should switch now while he is still young. Many epileptic drugs cause this but Valproic Acid is the worst. .

      • Norfolk, VA

        Now this is only my experience, but, I have been on 750 my of Depakote for 6 years and my wife and were able to conceive. I was 38 and she was 36, our first child baby Judah was born September 2021.
        However, I also take many vitamins daily, get plenty of exercise and drink lots of water. My sperm counts were low but 11 million but I they were strong, healthy swimmers.
        Plus, everybody has different genetics too.
        Lastly, most prescribed Depakote are usually taking some other SSRI types and that too can cause issues, whether killing sperm or affecting the initial burst/lift off for those healthy sperm.

  • DONMICHAEL

    I was surprised to hear Depakote would be prescribed to pregnant women. Isn’t Depakote essentially a tranquilizer?

    • Dtowngirl

      I took that for many years as a seizure medication

  • Bryer

    If they’d stop adding crap (unnatural things) to our food supply, for greater profits, “we” wouldnt need medication in the first place!

  • Knockout Starscream

    I wish all these stupid Alistics (sorry I know I spelled that wrong.) Would just shut up and leave people with Autism alone, And stop insulting us with stories like this, It not a defect or illness that needs cured or prevented it a difference and part of who we are,And I’m sick and tired of hearing and reading your crap, the one who wrote this needs to be fired preferably out of a cannon, Nothing about us without us.

    • Addison

      Agreed!! My sons both have an autistic spectrum disorder and honestly? I don’t view autism as a disability or an illness, but a “jump” in evolution. Evolution spurts and stutters and autism is the beginning of an evolutionary change. Many autistic people are very gifted and my younger son alone has a 3.95GPA in high school. His older brother ponders extremely deep mathematics and concepts WAY above most.

      • Rabid

        Your sons experience does not blanket over the struggles majority of those with autism face. Autism is a big spectrum, and the condition can vary. We should not see autism as a part of evolution, because it isn’t. It’s a disorder caused by (I really don’t have any better term for this, bear with me) degenerative growth. Do you not recognize Autism as a disorder that can be prevented? Are you an awful being for thinking — and believing the stigma — that disorders are inherently bad, and therefore cope by saying Autism isn’t?

        Those with autism are “gifted” for a short period, it is only then that gift is ripped away when their needs are not accommodated or recognized that they have to begin mimicking behaviors to that of somebody neurotypical, or begin masking their previous autistic behaviors. I myself would know because I have a disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD nor Autism are inherently bad, but the complications that can EASILY be found in the child with either (or any cognitive disorder similar to autism or ADHD) Autism or ADHD is startling. Please stop being so narrow minded, and instead understand that autism is a SPECTRUM and THEREFORE require different specialties, needs and requirements to be met for each different individual on the spectrum. Thanks.

        Your child’s experience does not blanket or accommodate the many millions with autism.

    • Teal Shades

      Oh you want to be left alone? Cool, we’ll stop trying to be accommodating and doing things to include you.
      If there’s nothing wrong with you, quit complaining about not getting social cues and feeling left out. We’ll make sure you get fired & ostracized when you mess up. No excuses right? You’re just like us, so reason for special treatment.

      • Puddintang

        So, when an autistic person has to sign up to recieve disability because their workplace wouldn’t accommodate, you have no room to be judgemental. Some people with ASD can function well enough despite their difficulties to pursue a career that is fulfilling for them, and some may be unable to work because of them. There’s nothing wrong with either. ASD has a huge variation in degrees of ability and I hate how people act as if there’s either nothing wrong with you or you’re re****ed, like all or nothing. Saying this as someone with ASD myself, diagnosed since I was three. It’s a lot easier for an NT to take a few minutes to learn about how to make reasonable accomodations for someone than it is for someone to try their hardest to mask over the fact that their brain is wired differently.

      • Puddintang

        So, when an autistic person loses their job because of their difficulties, you don’t have any room to complain about people on “welfare” when they apply for disability. I hate how a lot of times people act as if autistic people either have nothing wrong with them or treat them as if they are mentally deficient, like all or nothing. Some people with ASD are better off pursueing a fulfilling career despite their difficulties and some are safer on disability, there’s nothing wrong with either, but it’s a lot easier for an NT to do a few minutes of research and provide reasonable accomodations for someone than for an autistic person to try to live up to what behavior is expected of them despite their neural differences.

      • Aprilina

        Leave us autistic people alone. You stupid loser. You have no idea what it’s like to have autism so shut up!!!!!!!

    • Aaron

      I see where you’re coming from (for the most part). Since you said “nothing about us w/o us”, what is it that you would like to say. I’m curious to hear from a person with first hand experience.

  • Scott

    Although VPA exposure during pregnancy still resulted in other abnormalities, the scientists found that it no longer produced microcephaly (a small head size) or alterations to gene expression patterns linked to autism spectrum disorder in mice missing the p19Arf gene

  • shayna wofford

    Nice try. I have 3 kids with Autism and was never on meds with any of them. How about you look into the genetic components of family history ( adhd, bi polar etc). That’s one of the variables for sure.

    • Rabid

      Not once did they say it wasn’t. But pop off I guess. I’m pretty sure Middle School biology would teach about hereditary genetics.

  • m.w. cma

    Autism is genetic and autistic people aren’t defective. It is irresponsible to continue using antiquated language like this.

    • Chris

      Right on, I agree

    • Aprilina

      Thank you. Thank you very much. Someone understands and someone cares. I have autism and I’m intelligent and very gifted. Thank you for caring and understanding. That means everything.

  • Jeff

    Glad the French are still willing to study and REPORT drug side effects. I wonder how many more similar drugs have the same effect? 🤔

    • N Wat

      Its refreshing to find your intelligent comment amongst the massive cloud of blind words below this article!

  • Avery Herring

    Our Son age 12 is ASD Austistic. His Mom’s been on Seizures meds for years way Prior to His Birth. Depokote. Is there any Lawsuit’s pending on This Dangerous Med? Thank God He’s not showing any signs of Seizures Dis

  • Avery Herring

    Our Son age 12 is ASD Austistic. His Mom’s been on Seizures meds for years way Prior to His Birth. Depokote. Is there any Lawsuit’s pending on This Dangerous Med? Thank God He’s not showing any signs of Seizures Dis. No I have not posted such in past.

  • J

    Too bad they can’t figure these things out before lives are destroyed.

    • Taylor

      This comment is extremely irresponsible and harmful to the autism community. People with autism live very fulfilling lives and contribute in huge ways to society. To assume Licea are destroyed by autism is blatantly ignorant and you should educate yourself

  • Armando

    Glad someone debunked the myth of the vaccines

  • Chris

    I’m 31 years old and have autism, however I did not find out until I was around 25 years old. I don’t consider myself disabled but I always knew even as a child that there was something different about me. When I finally found out I had autism it was a very empowering experience.

    We don’t need to “try to prevent” autism, we simply need to teach children with autism that they have it at an early age.

    I say this because I do have some social shortcomings and as soon as I realized and understood what the symptoms of autism were, I was able to work on them. Although I did experience alot of social difficulty growing up, I wouldn’t change it if I could…

    I have a tendency to offend others because I think and speak in logical terms, sometimes without realizing that what I say can upset others. I Don’t think people want to “cure” autism for the well-being of people with autism, I think they want to “cure” it for their own fragile emotional nature.

    • Teal Shades

      Our fragile nature? Aren’t autistic people the ones who experience sensory overload at the slightest interaction and get depressed because they feel like they are being left out of the joke because they don’t understand social cues?
      It sounds like you guys are the fragile ones. You want us “normies” to leave autism alone? Fine, we will. No more raising awareness and trying to make things easier for you, we’ll just mind our “normie” business.

  • Ray

    So scars the recourse the VA gave me this like candy. I have two autistic children.

  • Your Belief vs Everything

    A lot of people with terminal denial in this comments section. “My kids have autism and I NEVER took ANY medications”. Followed by “I took Depakote for years for seizures”.
    Just because your feelings get hurt by a medical study doesn’t negate it’s relevance. I honestly don’t care if you believe you have some super power because of autism, I wouldn’t take the chance my child would be born with that “super power”.

  • K

    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.

  • Tim Lemke

    Science can be broadly unpopular sometimes. Here, I think that the phrasing is absolutely meant to clickbait, which I am sad that it’s come to that for scitechdaily, but daily articles are gonna drop in scientific rigor. Autistic people are so often spoken for and the “disorder” blamed on everything from cold and non-demonstrative mothers, to flouride to GMOs to *flails arms* the Maaaan, maaan! The way we talk around them is disgusting and the way we speak of “curing,” “preventing,” and calling them burdens for benefitting from sometimes costly therapy like speech therapy, is disgusting and dehumanizing.

    Like roe v wade they’re making political pawns out of people without their consent. Its essentially defamation but state sanctioned.

    I think if the writer made sure to differentiate that many of these disorders are far more ruinous than most, and at least acknowledge that autism is broadly debated for being an alteration of brain chemsitry rather than a potentially debilitating but often beneficial or neutral psychiatric disorder, then the fuss would all be simpler. The potential link between this cause of those deformities and autism at the same time, however, is an ugly, thankless question that still should be answered. However, there are 2 further facts you should consider.

    1. Scientists can have differing opinions preferences and biases, including political ones. So can science communicators, since science degrees may not make you the greatest writer in any language you do science in. Objectivity is best reached by acknowledging your own biases and preferences, and actively trying to push them out of your data, while leaving to peers to help understand if the questions, tests or conclusions were in any way skewed by them. Objectivity is more of a process and very rarely a status.

    2. That includes sometimes offensive connotations as far as morality, but if something causes palsy, deformations, siezure disorders and is linked to higher percentages of autism, that is important fact to qyestion and dig into whether or not it is EFFECTIVELY a disorder or disease. Science is not a popularity contest. We don’t know what causes a certain set of symptoms over another and what makes for more severe or mild cases. We don’t truly know what causes it if there is a single cause. We barely know how different they might or might not be from a neurochemistry perspective. We don’t know what we don’t know to ask.

    I no more like the implication than anyone else here. But one thing is clear, from everything else this can do to pregnant people, it really should not be perscribed by doctors to pregnant people, and at most a preference to prescribe with birth control pills should be established. Nothing forced but make the suggestion. And it seems that this drug also needs looking into some more, maybe an FDA review.

  • GPh

    Gee, is it possible that a third of children were found to be autistic because we’re getting better at diagnosing it?… Especially as it pertains to women and POC?

    It is hideously irresponsible to take one study looking for an outcome and make a declarative statement about autism. Just. Stop.

  • Nick Smeed

    Bad Genetics from the Father and or Mother, causes birth defects.

  • Tess

    Nobody said this was the only causeof Autism. You just set a bunch of people back for many years.

  • Walker Hall

    Two things:
    1. This article does NOT claim that all autism is caused by this drug. When California says “This chemical known to cause cancer” do you get angry and say “You liars, I know lots of people with cancer and they never used this chemical.” Work on reading comprehension.
    2. Autism most definitely IS a disorder/illness. Maybe it makes you feel better to think otherwise. Some people try to say the same about Down’s Syndrome. Give me a break. It is absolutely a disorder. Love the people regardless of the difficulties they were born with, but please stop trying to censor speech and science and reality to make people feel better and for political correctness.

  • linda

    wish I knew then what I know now!

  • Jenn

    Read the website’s disclaimer before acting on anything.
    “Further, SciTechDaily.com does not warrant or make any representations concerning the accuracy, likely results, or reliability of the use of the materials on its Internet web site or otherwise relating to such materials or on any sites linked to this site.”

  • Lexy

    As an autstic person, reading this article made me feel sick. This language just perpetuates that autistic people are somehow genetically wrong or defective, and that’s not true at all. I felt like they were just telling me “your brain got wired wrong cuz your mom f-ed up and took the wrong meds, this is a mistake and now we can prevent future autism” and that is awful.

  • Mercy

    Read a science article which said that some vaccines had alluminum nanoparticles added & alluminum may cause neurological problems…they used to have a preservative ( thimerosal) which had mercury & I did not do well w/ vaccines w/ thimerosal.

  • Leroy J Rouse

    Lol. Monica is on meds

  • N Wat

    After reading through the article and the comments, I have come to the conclusion that those who are aggressively opposing such a finding, are simply those who cannot face the thought that they could have injected or swallowed a man-made chemical that causes autism. It is laughable, some of the naive and ignorant responses to this article! The author is simply stating the findings of a French scientist’s research! And they present it with intelligence; which more than I can say for a majority of the comments left here concerning this article AND concerning autism! Anyone who can announce their child has the autism DISORDER, then start screaming that autism is not an abnormality or disorder, needs to check and see what spectrum they themselves are on. There are many things that people have blindly put into their bodies while believing in and trusting their doctors.
    Many of which are the reason for the uptick in MANY illnesses, diseases, and deaths. If you would be wise, you would trust no one with your body but the Lord, and by body, I mean, that includes those you give birth to…. Which are extensions of yourself.
    It is horrible to think that we blindly gave our trust to a pill or injection that later caused defects in our lineage, but that IS reality! We have! I have! Question should be, will we keep going down that blind path, or wake up to reality and do better? Time to wake up people. Yeshua is coming very very soon. Stop drinking the blind, deaf and dumb kool’aid! And for those who lack understanding; by dumb, I mean mute. The Word ‘Dumb’ has been misused and abused for a very long time. Wake up people!

  • Roger

    Chris, I am older than you but have the exact same stance. I was not diagnosed until age 45 and by then only my mom was still alive. As a non verbal pre 4 year old I repeatedly told my parents I was DIFFERENT from my peers but they denied me and my assertion because they did not “see” a difference. My mom freaked with guilt upon the 2011 diagnosis 8 years after my dad had passed. Two things I will add. My best friend and his wife refused to inform their child until he was 18 so as to encourage as much adaptation on his part as possible. That is worthy of a separate discussion. Second, always bear in mind we are high-functioning autistics and therefore are merely socially and communicatively different, whereas low functioning autistics have much more severe limitations such as not being able to speak or function in important ways. That level of impact DESERVES a cure or corrective measures. I cope at some level by relating to homosexuals who are treated so badly by the mainstream part of culture. Not that I necessarily agree with their political requests all of the time, but I remember befriending a lesbian who was shocked to never be visited in the hospital by ANY of her friends except me. A more informed and kind society is a realistic and widely supportable goal as Bush(41) spoke of at his inaugural address. The current social climate is too full of selfishness, demands and impatience. I find life in Russia is more pleasant but know and hate the Putin criminal regime as does my best friend the retired Russian professor. The USA is undergoing too much stress by these internal forces and I pray we survive as a unified country just as Lincoln tried and prayed to preserve the Union.

  • Timothy L Coffey

    The main culprit in autism is the MTHFR Gene variants. But gene methylation and Translocation is the issue with all health problems, because everything even brain problems go back to genes. That said chemicals in food and water is what makes it happen, world Governments have been killing people through known slow methods for decades we are pushing 8 billion people now so will only get worse. People who eat organic food understand this is going on but most just eat whatever and will die or pass on messed up genes to children then die. TCE and Benzene in water, check out EPA Superfunds Reagan stated. They poisoned military since 50s.

  • Snack Attack

    A lot of people yelling about autism when the article clearly mentions that this drug is linked to multiple birth defects(spina bifida as one such example) AND abnormal cognitive decline AND autism.

    Yes, autism is multifaceted and can be caused by other reasons(such as family genetics). Telling pregnant women not to take the drug is not an offense to anyone autistic. It sounds like theres the potential for pretty serious stuff, mild ASD is probably one of the better outcomes.

  • Patty

    Hmmmm that’s interesting. I was on Valproic Acid during my pregnancy in 1995. He is on the Autism Spectrum. May be something to this.

  • Roberta

    This is not new, it’s been known that valpronic acid is linked to autism. As a matter of fact it’s been used for decades to induce autism like characteristics in rodent and other species. Much much more than casual link. I am autistic and I monitor everything extremely close. Like I said I’ve known this fact for decades.

  • C.C.

    I think 🤔 it’s spelling that Monica needs to work on. Geeeeese!!!

  • Dr.BoBo

    Vaccines such as flu and many others cause autism . No Amish person has ever been diagnosed with autism. They never get vaccines.

    • Rabid

      You are not a doctor. The Amish people are never diagnosed because they lack the medical knowledge OR proper doctors to do so. Vaccines and the Flu Vaccine do not cause autism. I have took the Flu Vaccine and here I am standing without autism. My siblings (5) have taken the Flu Vaccine every year and do not have autism. Majority of the people I know get the Flu Vaccine every year, and they do not have autism. Instead, their autism was a result of their mother drinking, smoking or doing drugs when they were pregnant. Autism can be hereditary too, but the vaccine doesn’t cause autism. I’m sorry (not really) but it’s bogus information you’re trying to present. No, Quora nor Reddit counts. No, Facebook does not count as a reputable source. No, somebody you know that gave this information doesn’t count either. If they aren’t a licensed doctor that works in a hospital, ER or medical clinic does mean they aren’t a reputable source either.

  • Rabid

    1. To those saying it’s because of the “unnatural stuff” in it please gtfo. Majority of what you consume is not natural. Majority of it is genetically modified, majority of it consist of this or that chemical compounds, a minute amount of prescribed medications are derived from plants. Sorry to burst your bubble but being natural means you would go and drink that water from a water plant that hasn’t been processed, because it’s natural before it’s treated, yeah? Please see it to yourself to lick the counter of a gas station and experience what “natural” was.
    2. I’m sorry if you have Autism and find this article offensive, but there is not a single word or a single bit of this article that had even the slightest subliminal implications that autistic beings are bad or something to be cured. Saying you are offended to what could absolutely be prevented and mean less requirements to take care of gives me the feel that you’re also the type of person to allow a pregnant women to drink and smoke during pregnancy.

    Autism is not inherently bad. No other cognitive disorder, syndrome or condition is inherently bad. However autism is not something you should EVER hope for in a child. If it can be prevented, it should. You would only make the kids life harder, as autism (and any other condition that causes cognitive decline) is very visible in behaviors, learning and development. if you think it’s okay to harm the development of the embryo, be gone. I have ADHD. It wasn’t from medication, but I inherited mines. I suffered a lot as a kid because I was vastly different, and in which I didn’t grow up in a healthy environment. I understand the struggle, but are you *serious* to say you think Autism development shouldn’t be prevented? I understand you don’t resent your condition, but in no way on Earth are you wishing it to be prevented. We’re aware it doesn’t need to be cured, not a single bit in this article implied that. We’re aware it doesn’t mean you are less than human, not a single bit in this article implied that. But the complications the kid will have in the future is phenomenal, and the fact you don’t wanna bother acknowledging that and instead have the most special child ever is wrong. Shoo. This goes to anybody thinking otherwise. I

  • Isabella

    OMG! My nephew has autism and he is pretty messed up. He is 8 and barely speaks like single words. He can’t read, write, do math. He just stands in a group of kids of the same age who talk, interact, play and laugh. Most of the time he avoids people and other children. He is very noice sensitive. Can’t even ride elevator because it’s too loud. Please don’t tell me that he is special because it’s rather disability than a step in evolution!

  • rosario

    let me tell you all..the
    most common sense of all this people fighting and arguing is Roger and Rabi. I agree with you 100%. like Rabi said if it can be prevented … not child should have to go thru so much for this… some are very smart I agree with that but in the other hand they are some that cannot have a job, or try to have a normal life marry and have children and they need assistance all the time. Like it was mentioned before the article didn’t stated only autistic, could be one cause for some…. there a lot of things that can give you cancer what u thought about that? We live in a world where we don’t want to eat healthy , we prefer comfort food, convenient food, the vegetables and food that grows in the soil doesn’t have the same nutrients there are some things that affect to some persons and others not. we are all made different and unique. I feel we are going backwards… we need in this world simphaty , emphaty for each other, love, union, common sense. this article wasn’t not made only to focus on autistic people… stop being offended

  • OB nurse

    If providers are utilizing evidence based medicine, they haven’t been using Valproic Acid for years! Currently the “safe” seizure medication in pregnancy is Keppra.

  • Nick C.

    I’m surprised that this is news to the research community given the use of VPA in driving differentiation in hESCs. Though I am glad to see some translational work elucidating these pathways in clinical outcomes.

  • Amber

    Please know Valproic Acid does kill sperm especially at 750mg or higher daily. Meaning men will be unable to conceive. Ask for a different medicine when possible!!

  • Angela

    I have raised my grandson who has autism with ADHD and have often wondered if it was related to the depakote my dtr took during pregnancy, makes sense that it might have, excited to see any new helpful research, thanks

  • Kurt

    It would also be interesting to know whether the children of a man receiving valproic acid would be more likely to have birth defects, among them neurological developmental disorders.

  • Lori

    I can definitely see this as being a possible cause of Autism because my sister had epilepsy and took depakote for years before, and when she did conceive and became pregnant with my nephew-Sean. As an end result, my nephew was diagnosed with PDD Autism and Epilepsy. He is currently (at the age of 28) taking Depakote as one of his 5 drugs to manage his Epilepsy.

  • Billie

    I was on depakote DR for about 5-8 months for migraines they were prescribed by my therapist. When I found out I was pregnant my DR. said immediately and I did. At 7 months into my pregnancy I was given a ultrasound then sent for another one, I was told my little boy has enencephaly and my Son died 5 hours after he was born!! Why I ask why would they prescribe anything that can cause such serious and deadly diseases and mental trauma to families. I still grieve for my Son who would have turned 20yrs on June 28, 2002!!!!

  • Anna

    I was on Depakote for 16 yrs. As a female, one of the most persistently consistent issues pressed by every Neurologist was the dangers of taking VPA during pregnancy. I am surprised that any doc would continue to prescribe it to a pregnant woman. I was told it’s less dangerous to just experience seizures throughout my pregnancy then to continue the medicine

  • KP

    This is a ridiculous article . No one even uses depakote
    For probably 30 years . Same with phenobarb.
    We have Keppra and lamictal which are safe in pregnancy . Valproic acid is not “widely used”
    At least not in US. Article is ridiculously misleading

  • Bill Finger

    Why is there such a big spike in autism cases in the last 30 or so years? People aren’t asking enough questions

  • Michael

    As a parent of an autistic child, I agree and take solidarity with the parents of children on the spectrum who are saying to please stop insulting us with these articles.
    Our children are exceptional and would be that other people’s children were as lovely as autistic children.

    And to the person who’s posted that ridiculous article about acetaminophen causing autism, clearly they didn’t get past the headline.

    If they had read the article they’d found this “However, it noted that taking small amounts of acetaminophen during pregnancy — in one study, for fewer than eight days — didn’t increase risks.”

    And one study is not really significant. Multiple studies have found no connections as to the causes of autism.

  • Kjell

    No it doesn’t, or no doctor in their right mind would prescribe anything that has to do with it. I should know, I am on a daily seizure medication.

  • Elijah

    This is such nonsense. If you want to really study this, test all their parents for signs of ASD. Neurodivergence and mood/behavioral disorders are very often comorbid.

  • Matt

    I was diagnosed as autistic when I was three but i went to regular school, and I hate how people think autism is all or nothing, like you’re either mentally challenged or there’s nothing wrong with you, the amount of ignorance surrounding it is nuts. Please, just do a few minutes of research about it and learn, and be kind to people with autism or any type of disability, for that matter.

  • Matt

    Not sure where my comment keeps going?

    • Colin Collins

      Hi Matt,
      Comments don’t always appear immediately in the comment section. Try checking later to see if your comment was posted. If it still didn’t appear, make sure you aren’t using any offensive language or are posting too many links.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Shorty

    This is terrible to put false information like this out as news! 1/3 of kids developed ASD?? I bet more than 1/3 of the world’s entire population falls somewhere on the spectrum regardless of medications their mothers took during pregnancy!!!!

  • Micheline

    First it was Paxil… Now, this.

  • Rachel Siddons

    Elon Musk is autistic, why can’t we just let people be who they are. God created us all differently and beautifully to be the unique individuals that he wanted us to be. We should recognize the good in every human being because we all play an important role here regardless of any particular scientific diagnosis. We all of an important purpose here and we should focus on that, rather than tapping into shortcomings that we all have in some form or another. Life is hard for everyone, but loving one another through our problems should be the answer to this inevitable truth.

  • KMG

    There are many contributing factors which cause disorders and diseases at a cellular level in utero at various stages of development.Fetal ultrasound. Nutrition. Hormones. Pesticides.Herbicide. Prescription and Recreational drugs. Occupational exposure to chemicals. So many factors… It’s so unfortunate people are so uneducated. Easy to manipulate and blame other people for their problems.Capitalism is part of the problem. Just a pill. Stare at you cell phone… Radio frequency effects developing brains. Read. Knowledge is power.

  • Templar74

    Medicine to fix one problem only to create another, then a medicine to fix those two problems, then a medicine to fix what those meds (fixed).. But wait! There’s more.. medicine to fix the newly created problems those meds created.. There’s even meds for little boys to take because their confused. The world was a better place before man started perverting and tweaking all that was good..

  • Cat

    So they know this drug can cause major medical issues in developing fetuses so how about we don’t give it to women who can be p or potentially be pregnant. Yes, I understand that sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks and it might be the only medication that works. Then make sure the female knows to be on birth control as well. It is also way to early to speak of other than physical issues what this drug causes in humans, more testing would need to be done.

  • Sarah

    Why spend millions of more dollars to find out why? Don’t give it to pregnant women.

  • TeriM.

    I went through 3 normal pregnancies but my last one I was 27yrs old..he has severe ASD..never took any kind of meds,ate healthy..he was diagnosed Microsephaly..didnt understood why and how.We did the genetic testing it turnout negative.And still today dont know what caused it.My son has been taken Depakote since he was 5yrs old hes 30yrs now…but he never had seizures its for sleep disorder which sometimes he didn’t sleep for days(sometimes for 4 days straight nonstop)..So I’m trying to say I think now with more knowledge of research reading and listening to professional and nonprofessionals(like us) my conclusion is the food,water,and air we breathe for many many years(starting in late 1950s when they start spraying and adding chemicals around us) that attacks our bodies our nuerosystem.People are not getting any better but worse.

  • Cathy

    I’m 73 with multiple disabilities. Dx’d on Spectrum in 1998 by Dr. Jay Goldstein, UCLA + UC Irvine. I suspected my father’s massive doses of radiation to treat his prostate cancer in 1949 post removal caused his sperm remaining (that merged with my mother’s egg) to be “deformed” thereby causing my austism. This has been validated in recent years by acknowledging defects in sperm create unusual babies. Thank God I had supportive parents whose unconditional love helped me overcome the hateful criticism directed my way. Thank you.

  • Reva

    OK first and foremost, medications and vaccines DON NOT cause autism. Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that is passed down from one parent or another. Its GENETIC!! Also, if a grandfather on either side served in Vietnam, will have contracted the cancer Agent Orange which also has a strewn of other pervasive developmental disorders. People seriously need to do their research properly.
    And yes, I do have 3 sons who have autism that they inherited from their father. And it’s more likely to affect boys than girls however, that doesn’t mean that girls can’t be diagnosed with Autism.

  • Dj Major

    I’ve seen children born with autism that I suspect of know the mother used “crack”. Has that been tested to produce the same birth defects?

  • K.A.

    My partner is on the high functioning side of the spectrum. He struggles with black and white thinking, gut issues, and “shutting down” when multitasking/stress rears it’s head. He’s an amazing, awesome person who I would not change….BUT, pretending a neurological disorder is not an issue problem is ignorant. This is what asd is. If we can educate ourselves and avoid anything that may lead to developmental disorders let’s please do that.

  • Robert

    Autism is GENETIC. It is NOT caused by medications.

    • Greg

      So toxins, chemicals and radiation will have no effects pregnant women and their offspring? Wow, I am so relieved, thanks

  • Greg

    Allopathic medicine has never healed anyone ever. It treats symptoms only and doesn’t do that without side effects. This is gospel. Use at your own risk.

  • Your disappointed uncle

    No doubt this will be a very not insane comment section.

  • Frank Goralski

    Question is why do we keep trusting big pharma? What makes the people so silent on this?

  • Joy

    Some people don’t read. This is one particular cause. Of course there are many others. More has yet to be discovered.

  • Bill

    What if the father was on it and not the mother ? Can it be passed that way?

  • Ked hud

    It’s so crazy reading these comments what has this world come to people used to be able to have meaningful back and forth conversations and be able to let each other have their point of view and not be called names or get every insult in the world thrown at them I feel sorry for generations moving forward

  • Guy

    FDA said it was safe and effective, though.

  • Katie

    My son didn’t show any signs of autism at all until immediately after his 12 months vaccinations. When I say immediately, I mean literally over night. You can all say whatever you want but he was speaking, could count to five and had begun learning his ABC’s prior to receiving these vaccinations. I’m not saying that vaccines cause autism by any means but I do feel that some children may have some sort of predisposition to developing autism after certain vaccines. Or maybe it was the fact that he’d received so many during that one visit. Come to find out, some time down the road after doing some research, that my son had had adverse reactions to every vaccine he’d ever had. I hadn’t previously made the correlation because my son’s pediatrician hadn’t properly provided me with any of the required informed consent documents as she should have prior to dosing my son. What bothers me the most about it all is that I hadn’t even known my son received vaccines at the hospital when he was born until I later reviewed paperwork showing the vaccines he’d received. The nurses urged me to let them take my newborn son to the nursery overnight so I could get some rest. I politely declined on the premise that I had to get used to caring for him no matter what. However, they urged me to let them take him and the next morning my son was displaying what’s referred to as tonic clonic movements. His arms were jerking upwards uncontrollably. And when I asked the nurses about it, they blamed for occasionally consuming one caffeinated beverage a day. It’s quite obvious to me today that they were deliberately being evasive and secretive about why they wanted to take him to the nursery. The whole purpose of informed consent laws are self explanatory and should be strictly adhered to as they are after all, LAWS. So why do these nurses and doctors not held liable for their actions where vaccines are concerned? I fully understand the importance of vaccines but had I been properly informed about the possible side effects and known what to watch out for, we could have worked out a more spread out vaccine regime for my son and avoided the outcome we’re now left living with today. If you look up the symptoms of encephalitis, another side effect of vaccines, they’re eerily similar to autism. Just saying.

  • Sarah Sanders

    Honestly, it’s time to cull the herd. There’s too many of us. Let the weak die, especially some of the commenters here.