A U.S. study suggests that valproic acid might increase the risk of brain, heart and limb defects in babies when the drug is given to pregnant women as first-line treatment for epilepsy during their first trimester. Researchers found that compared with nontreatment or other epilepsy drugs, valproic acid heightened the risk of atrial septal defect by 2.5 times and spina bifida by 12.7 times.

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