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Fetal valproate syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Embryofoetal valproic acid syndrome
  • Valproic acid embryopathy
  • Valproic acid fetal effects from
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Fetal valproate syndrome occurs when a baby develops signs and symptoms as a result of an exposure to valproic acid during fetal development.  Fetal exposure to valproic acid is associated with 2 to 3 times the general population risk for birth defects.  This results in roughly a 6 to 9% risk of having a child with a birth defect versus the general population risk of 2 to 3%.  Some children with this syndrome share common subtle facial characteristics, including thin arched eyebrows that may be spaced far apart, a wide nasal bridge, short nose with anteverted nostrils, thin upper lip, and smooth long philtrum (space between nose and lip).[1] These features may become less prominent with time.[1] Fetal valproate syndrome may also be associated with a wide range of other birth defects, as well as intellectual disability.[1][2][3][4][5] In most cases the risks for a particular symptom or defect is not currently known.
Last updated: 3/5/2010


  1. Kini U et al. Dysmorphic features: an important clue to the diagnosis and severity of fetal anticonvulsant syndromes. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2006;
  2. Kini U. Fetal valproate syndrome: a review. Paediatric and Perinatal Drug Therapy. 2006;
  3. Clayton-Smith J, Donnai D. Fetal valproate syndrome. J Med Genet. 1995;
  4. Kozma. Valproic acid embryopathy: Report of two siblings with further expansion of the phenotypic abnormalities and a review of the literature. American Journal of Medical Genetics. 2001;
  5. Nicolai J, Vles JSH, Aldenkamp AP. Neurodevelopmental delay in children exposed to antiepileptic drugs in utero: A critical review directed at structural study-bias. Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 2008;
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Basic Information

  • provides more information on valproic acid. MedlinePlus is a Web site designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions.
  • has an information page on fetal valporate syndrome. Click on to view the page.
  • The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offers information on seizures disorders and pregnancy. Click on the link above to learn more.
  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) is a federation of more than 130 nonprofit voluntary health organizations serving people with rare disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. Click on the link to view this information. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is an catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs.  Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Fetal valproate syndrome. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.

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