Valproic Acid and Derivatives

Pediatric Medication

Brand Names: US

Depacon; Depakene; Depakote; Depakote ER; Depakote Sprinkles; Stavzor [DSC]

Brand Names: Canada

Apo-Divalproex; Apo-Valproic; Depakene; Dom-Divalproex; Dom-Valproic Acid; Dom-Valproic Acid E.C.; Epival; Mylan-Divalproex; Mylan-Valproic; Novo-Valproic; PHL-Divalproex; PHL-Valproic Acid; PHL-Valproic Acid E.C.; PMS-Divalproex; PMS-Valproic Acid; PMS-Valproic Acid E.C.; ratio-Valproic; Sandoz-Valproic; Teva Divalproex


All products:

  • This drug may cause very bad and sometimes deadly liver problems. This most often happens within the first 6 months of using this drug. Call your child’s doctor if your child has dark urine, is feeling tired, is not hungry, has an upset stomach, is throwing up, or has yellowing of the skin or eyes. In patients who have seizures, loss of seizure control may happen. Have your child’s blood work checked. Talk with your child’s doctor.
  • Children under 2 years are at greater risk of deadly liver problems. Those who take more than 1 seizure drug or who have a metabolic disorder, a very bad seizure disorder along with mental retardation, or certain brain problems are at highest risk. Talk with the doctor.
  • There is a greater risk of liver failure and death in patients who have a genetic liver problem caused by a mitochondrial disorder like Alpers–Huttenlocher syndrome. Your child may need to have a genetic test to check for this health problem. If your child has or may have mitochondrial disorders do not give this drug before talking with your child’s doctor.
  • This drug may cause very bad and sometimes deadly pancreas problems (pancreatitis). This could happen in children at any time during care. Signs of pancreatitis include belly pain, upset stomach, throwing up, or not feeling hungry. Call your child’s doctor right away if your child has any of these signs.

If your child is or may be sexually active:

  • If your child is able to get pregnant, she must use birth control that she can trust while taking this drug. If your child gets pregnant while taking this drug, call your child’s doctor right away.

If your child is pregnant or breast-feeding a baby:

  • This drug may cause very bad birth defects if your child takes it while your child is pregnant. It can also cause the baby to have a lower IQ. Do not give this drug to prevent migraine headaches if your child is pregnant. If your child is pregnant and takes this drug for seizures or bipolar disorder, talk to your child’s doctor to see if your child needs to keep taking this drug.

All oral products:

  • This drug comes with an extra patient fact sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it with care each time this drug is filled. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

What is this drug used for?

  • It is used to treat seizures.
  • It is used to prevent migraine headaches.
  • It is used to treat bipolar problems.
  • It may be given to your child for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell the doctor BEFORE my child takes this drug?

  • If your child has an allergy to this drug or any part of this drug.
  • If your child is allergic to any drugs like this one or any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell the doctor about the allergy and what signs your child had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If your child has any of these health problems: Liver disease or a urea cycle disorder.
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.
Tell the doctor and pharmacist about all of your child’s drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for your child to take this drug with all of his/her drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug your child takes without checking with the doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while my child takes this drug?

  • Tell all of your child’s health care providers that your child is taking this drug. This includes your child’s doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Have your child avoid tasks or actions that call for alertness until you see how this drug affects your child. These are things like riding a bike, playing sports, or using items such as scissors, lawnmowers, electric scooters, toy cars, or motorized vehicles.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • Alcohol may interact with this drug. Be sure your child does not drink alcohol.
  • Talk with the doctor before giving your child other drugs and natural products that may slow your child’s actions.
  • This drug may affect certain lab tests. Tell all of your child’s health care providers and lab workers that your child takes this drug.
  • Your child may bleed more easily. Make sure your child is careful and avoids injury. Be sure your child has a soft toothbrush.
  • High blood levels of ammonia have happened with this drug. This can lead to certain brain problems. In some people, this has been deadly. Talk with the doctor.
  • A very bad and sometimes deadly reaction has happened with this drug. Most of the time, this reaction has signs like fever, rash, or swollen glands with problems in body organs like the liver, kidney, blood, heart, muscles and joints, or lungs. Talk with the doctor.
  • Patients who take this drug may be at a greater risk of having thoughts or actions of suicide. The risk may be greater in people who have had these thoughts or actions in the past. Call the doctor right away if signs like low mood (depression), nervousness, restlessness, grouchiness, panic attacks, or changes in mood or actions are new or worse. Call the doctor right away if any thoughts or actions of suicide occur.
  • This drug may affect how much of some other drugs are in the body. If your child is taking other drugs, talk with the doctor. Your child may need to have blood work checked more closely while taking this drug with other drugs.
  • Use with care in children. Talk with the doctor.

If your child is pregnant or breast-feeding a baby:

  • This drug may cause harm to the unborn baby if your child takes it during pregnancy. If your child is pregnant or gets pregnant while taking this drug, call the doctor right away.
  • Tell the doctor if your child is breast-feeding a baby. You will need to talk about any risks to the baby.

Valproic acid capsules:

  • Some brands of this drug have peanut oil in them. If your child is allergic to peanuts, check with your pharmacist to see if your child’s brand has peanut oil in it.

What are some side effects that I need to call my child’s doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your child’s doctor or get medical help right away if your child has any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
  • Signs of high ammonia levels like a heartbeat that does not feel normal, breathing that is not normal, feeling confused, pale skin, slow heartbeat, seizures, sweating, throwing up, or twitching.
  • Chest pain.
  • Swelling in the arms or legs.
  • Change in eyesight.
  • Memory problems or loss.
  • Change in balance.
  • Trouble walking.
  • If seizures are worse or not the same after starting this drug.
  • Feeling very tired or weak.
  • Any unexplained bruising or bleeding.
  • Purple spots or redness of the skin.
  • Not able to pass urine or change in how much urine is passed.
  • Swollen gland.
  • Muscle pain or weakness.
  • Joint pain or swelling.
  • Shakiness.
  • Change in the way your child acts.
  • Not able to control eye movements.
  • Ringing in ears.
  • Feeling cold.
  • Feeling very sleepy.

What are some other side effects of this drug?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your child’s doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother your child or do not go away:
  • Headache.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Dizziness.
  • Feeling sleepy.
  • Hard stools (constipation).
  • Loose stools (diarrhea).
  • Belly pain.
  • Not able to sleep.
  • Feeling more or less hungry.
  • Weight gain or loss.
  • Hair loss.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Feeling nervous and excitable.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your child’s doctor. Call your child’s doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to your national health agency.

How is this drug best given?

Give this drug as ordered by your child’s doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

All oral products:

  • Give this drug with or without food. Give with food if it causes an upset stomach.
  • To gain the most benefit, do not miss giving your child doses.
  • Keep giving this drug to your child as you have been told by your child’s doctor or other health care provider, even if your child feels well.
  • Do not stop giving this drug to your child all of a sudden without calling the doctor. Your child may have a greater risk of seizures. If your child needs to stop this drug, you will want to slowly stop it as told by the doctor.

Tablets and capsules:

  • Have your child swallow whole. Do not let your child chew, break, or crush.
  • Give this drug with a full glass of water.
  • If your child has trouble swallowing, talk with the doctor.

Long-acting tablets:

  • If you or your child see parts of this drug in your child’s stool, call the doctor.

Sprinkle capsule:

  • Your child may swallow whole or you may mix the contents of the capsule with certain foods like applesauce. Have your child take the mixture right away. Do not store for later use.
  • If you or your child see parts of this drug in your child’s stool, call the doctor.


  • Measure liquid doses carefully. Use the measuring device that comes with this drug. If there is none, ask the pharmacist for a device to measure this drug.


  • It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.

What do I do if my child misses a dose?

All oral products:

  • Give a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your child’s next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your child’s normal time.
  • Do not give 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.


  • Call your child’s doctor to find out what to do.

How do I store and/or throw out this drug?

All oral products:

  • Store at room temperature.
  • Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.


  • If you need to store this drug at home, talk with your child’s doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.

All products:

  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to throw out unused drugs.

General drug facts

  • If your child’s symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your child’s doctor.
  • Do not share your child’s drug with others and do not give anyone else’s drug to your child.
  • Keep a list of all your child’s drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your child’s doctor.
  • Talk with your child’s doctor before giving your child any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your child’s doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Last Reviewed Date



© 2016 Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information, Inc. and its affiliates and/or licensors. All rights reserved.