A drug given to pregnant women for epilepsy and bipolar disorder caused “serious malformations” in up to 4,100 children, a French study suggests.

Mothers treated with valproate for epilepsy were up to four times likelier to give birth to a malformed child, the preliminary study found.

Introduced in France in 1967, valproate is prescribed widely worldwide.

According to BBC News, doctors in France are now advised not to give it to girls, women of childbearing age and pregnant women.

Some of those affected say France and the company were too slow to warn of side-effects.

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