Depakote can be effective against many types of seizures common in children:
Children under 2 or 3 years of age who take Depakote have a much higher risk of liver failure than adults or older children. (The risk is very low for children over 10, perhaps 1 in 50,000.) The risk is even higher for very young children who also take other seizure medicines, and it's highest of all for those with certain other serious disorders. Usually the doctor will not prescribe Depakote for children at very high risk. Liver damage usually occurs within the first 6 months of treatment. The first signs of it are vomiting, loss of appetite, sluggishness, and perhaps loss of seizure control, yellow skin and eyes, or swelling.
Higher-than-usual levels of the hormone testosterone have been found in many girls who take Depakote when they're older than about age 10. No symptoms are apparent, but the doctor may want to watch for later problems, perhaps related to weight gain.
A few children who take Depakote seem to become more irritable but this is seldom a serious problem.
To reduce side effects, the doctor probably will prescribe a low dose of Depakote to start and increase it slowly. Children usually start with a dose of 5 to 10 milligrams (mg) for each kilogram (kg, about 2.2 pounds) of their body weight per day. This is usually given in two to four equal doses per day.
Most children do best at about 15 to 60 mg/kg per day. Children taking a combination of Depakote and another seizure medicine usually need the higher doses because of interactions between the medicines.
The sprinkle capsule is an easy way to give Depakote to small children who cannot swallow tablets. The child's body absorbs the same amount of medicine, but it happens a bit more quickly than with the tablets.
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