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Study links epilepsy drug to birth defects

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 4, 2007


HEALTH - One in four women who took the widely used epilepsy drug valproate while pregnant gave birth to children who were mentally retarded, double the rate among women who took other epilepsy medicines, researchers said Thursday. The report, presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Boston, was the latest to document the potential dangers of valproate to unborn children. Last summer, researchers reported that 1 in 5 women who took the drug, sold as Depakote by Abbott Laboratories, had pregnancies that resulted in fetal death or birth defects, including malformed hearts and genitals, cleft palates and artery deformities. The risks are not included on the drug's warning label. The drug is also used to treat migraine headaches and some psychiatric conditions, including bipolar disorder. Abbott reported Depakote sales of $1.2-billion last year in the United States.

 

Officials: Freeman to fight extradition

HONG KONG - An American accused of raping his daughter and posting a video of the attack on the Internet several years ago wants to contest his extradition to the United States, a lawyer said today. Kenneth John Freeman, who was captured Tuesday after more than a year on the run, wore a hooded sweatshirt to hide his face as he entered a Hong Kong courthouse for his hearing. The case was adjourned until July 3 to give the United States time to make a formal extradition request, Hong Kong officials said. They said Freeman indicated he wanted to contest the extradition.

 

Elsewhere

Los Angeles: The FBI will open a civil rights inquiry into the Los Angeles Police Department's actions at a May 1 immigration rally where officers cleared a city park by wielding batons and firing rubber bullets, the bureau said Thursday.

Marietta, Ga.: Ashley Miller, 18, the second of two suspects dubbed the "Barbie Bandits" in an $11, 000 bank heist, was released on $15, 000 bail Thursday, authorities said. Miller and Heather Johnston, 19, are charged with felony theft and marijuana possession in the case. The two were videotaped as they appeared to rob a Bank of America in Acworth on Feb. 27.

Bentonville, Ark.: State Trooper Larry Norman pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor in the fatal shooting of a man who had cerebral palsy and whom Norman mistook for a fugitive. Norman faces up to a year in jail and a fine of $1, 000.