Valproate is not safe to treat pregnant women with migraine headaches, according to a new warning from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is a potential for reduced IQ in the offspring of women who take the drug while pregnant. Valproate is found in various anti-migraine medications such as Depacon, Depakote, Depakene and Stavzor. The FDA has determined that this drug is properly classified as "Category X" for drugs whose risks clearly outweigh their benefits.
Valproate exposure decreases average IQs in children exposed to the drug in utero. Although Antiepileptic Drug (AEDs) use during pregnancy is known to cause congenital malformations, little research has been done on the effect they have on intelligence. A recent study in Neurology looked pregnant women taking four common AEDs and tested their children at 4.5 years of age. Children exposed to Valproate had significantly lower IQ scores (96) than children expose to three other common AEDs, carbamazepine (107), lamotrigine (106) and phenytoin (105).