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Anit-epileptic drug linked to birth defects

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Women who take the anti-epileptic drug valproic acid while pregnant have a significantly increased risk of having a child with birth defects, according to University of Ulster researchers.

Their study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 98,000 births, still births or terminations with malformations in 14 European countries over 10 years.

They found that women who took valproic acid in the first trimester of pregnancy were up to 12 times more likely to have a child with birth defects - ranging from spina bifida to heart defects - compared with no anti-epileptic drug use.

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