Valproic acid hepatic fatalities. III. U.S. experience since 1986

Neurology. 1996 Feb;46(2):465-9. doi: 10.1212/wnl.46.2.465.


We report the results of a third retrospective study of the U.S. experience with fatal hepatotoxicity associated with valproic acid (VPA). In the United States, over one million patients received new prescriptions for VPA during the years 1987 to 1993, and 29 patients developed fatal hepatotoxicity. Decreased alertness, jaundice, vomiting, hemorrhage, increased seizures, anorexia, and edema were the most common presenting signs. Risk factors included young age, polytherapy, developmental delay, and coincident metabolic disorders. Patients less than 2 years old receiving VPA as polytherapy were at the greatest risk (1:600) of developing this complication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States
  • Valproic Acid / adverse effects*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Valproic Acid