Epilepsy Home > Precautions and Warnings With Valproic Acid

You should review precautions and warnings with valproic acid before you begin treatment. For example, tell your healthcare provider if you have liver disease or a blood disorder. To reduce the chances of drug interactions, tell your healthcare provider about all medications you are taking. Precautions and warnings with valproic acid also extend to those who are allergic to the medication or to any component used to make it.

Valproic Acid: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking valproic acid (Depakene®) if you have:
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure or cirrhosis
  • A urea cycle disorder
  • Mental retardation
  • A blood disorder
  • Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Precautions and Warnings With Valproic Acid

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking valproic acid include the following:
  • There have been cases of liver failure caused by valproic acid. Children under two years old are at especially high risk, especially children with mental retardation, brain damage or disease, or certain other health problems. Valproic acid is not approved for children less than 10 years old and should rarely be used in young children, due to the risk of liver damage.
  • You should not take valproic acid if you have liver disease. Also, you should not take it if you have a urea cycle disorder (a problem with the enzymes that clear ammonia from the body, leading to high ammonia levels in the blood), as valproic acid may make this condition worse. You should be evaluated for a urea cycle disorder if you have a history of:
    • A brain disease or problem associated with pregnancy
    • Unexplained brain disease or problems
    • Unexplained mental retardation
    • High ammonia levels in your blood
    • Vomiting and lethargy that comes and goes regularly.
  • Valproic acid can cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), which may be quite dangerous. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if you have any signs of pancreatitis, including:
    • Severe abdominal pain (stomach pain)
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Loss of appetite.
  • Elderly people may be more sensitive to valproic acid side effects, such as drowsiness. If you are elderly and take valproic acid, your healthcare provider should monitor you more closely.
  • Valproic acid can cause low platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia) in some people. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any unusual bruises or bleeding during treatment.
  • As with all seizure medications, valproic acid should not be stopped suddenly (see Valproic Acid Withdrawal).
  • Let your healthcare provider know right away if you have a rash along with a fever or any other symptoms, as this may be a sign of a dangerous allergic reaction.
  • Valproic acid can interact with certain other medications (see Drug Interactions With Valproic Acid).
  • Valproic acid is generally considered to be unsafe for use during pregnancy, although it is sometimes used during pregnancy in specific situations. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of taking the drug during pregnancy (see Valproic Acid and Pregnancy). Valproic acid may increase the risk of birth defects and "cognitive impairment" problems, such as lower intelligence.
  • Valproic acid passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Valproic Acid and Breastfeeding).


  • Early evidence suggests that seizure medications, including valproic acid, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors (see Seizure Medications and Suicide for more information).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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