Symptom and symptom severity varies from person to person. Risks for harmful effects due to prenatal exposure to valproic acid are likely influenced by a variety of factors, including drug dosage, multiple drug or drug combination, timing of drug exposure, severity of seizure disorder in the mother, predisposing genes, and folic acid intake. In general, children of women with a seizure disorder also are at an increased risk for having a seizure disorder themselves. Parental factors such as IQ and socio-economic status may also play a role in symptom and symptom severity.
Signs and symptoms associated with fetal valproate exposure that have been described in medical literature are listed below by body system. Please note that some of these symptoms have been reported in only a few or a single case (these symptoms are marked with an asterisk).
Ventricular septal defect
Atrial septal defect
Patent ductus arteriosus
*Anomalous right pulmonary artery
Radial ray defects
Extra digit (polydactyly)
Camptodactyly (unusual curvature of the fingers)
Flat feet in childhood
Joint laxity (loose joints)
*Underdevelopment of the ulna or tibia
Central nervous system (brain and spinal cord)
Neural tube defects
*Partial agenesis of corpus callosum
*Abscence of the septum pellucidum
*Lissencephaly of medial sides of occipital lobes
Low verbal IQ
Autism and autistic spectrum disorder
Coloboma of the iris/optic disc
*Underdevelopment of the optic nerve
*Tear duct anomalies
* Very small or poorly developed eyes (microphthalmia)
Hearing problems due to recurrent ear infections
In addition, newborns who were exposed prenatally to seizure medications may require special care after delivery because of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms include feeding difficulties, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), jitteriness, irritability, and low body temperature (hypothermia). Other symptoms may include poor muscle tone, and joint laxity.
Some children with fetal valproate syndrome show delays in development, autistic features, and/or intellectual disability. In general, the most commonly affected developmental aspect is speech and language. In addition some children have motor delays which may cause clumsiness and impair daily living skills, such as getting dressed, handwriting, riding a bike and swimming. Toilet-training may also be delayed, however most children do achieve this milestone. Lastly, some children with fetal valproate syndrome have difficulty with social interaction, which may prompt investigation for autistic spectrum disorder.
The Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) provides the following list of features that have been reported in people with this condition. Much of the information in the HPO comes from Orphanet, a European rare disease database. If available, the list includes a rough estimate of how common a feature is (its frequency). Frequencies are based on a specific study and may not be representative of all studies. You can use the MedlinePlus Medical Dictionary for definitions of the terms below.
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These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.
Third Conference of the MENA Initiative: Future Directions in Developmental Disabilities: Prevention, Screening, and Treatment
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 -
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Location: Doha, Qatar
Description: The goals of the meeting were to enhance prevention, screening, and treatment of developmental disabilities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and to develop partnerships for building regional resources that will support patient treatment and research collaboration. This included expanding the conditions that had been addressed in the previous conferences to include neurosensory and neurodevelopmental conditions in addition to metabolic conditions.
Contact: Danuta Krotoski, email@example.com@mail.nih.gov
Co-funding Institute(s): National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Office of Rare Diseases Research
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My child may have fetal valproate syndrome. I'd like to learn more about this syndrome including how it is diagnosed, its symptoms, and treatment. See answer