He noted that the use of valproate in women of childbearing years has gone down in recent years, but because of the reasons he mentioned, there will likely always be some women in their childbearing years taking the drug.
Both Christensen and Meador said they believe that valproate might increase the risk of autism and autism spectrum disorders by altering the development of nerve cells in the brain. The drug doesn't necessarily destroy the developing cells, but changes them in a way that makes it harder for the cells to work and communicate with each other the way they're supposed to.
Although the study tied the use of valproate in pregnancy to higher autism risk in children, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
Learn more about the potential risks of valproate from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.