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Blood Test: Valproic Acid

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
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What Is a Blood Test?

By taking and testing a small sample of a person’s blood, doctors can check for many kinds of diseases and conditions. Blood tests help doctors check how the body’s organs are working and see if medical treatments are helpful.

To help your child get ready for a blood test, find out if they need to fast (not eat or drink) or should stop taking medicines before the test. Explain what to expect during the test. If your child is anxious about it, work together on ways to stay calm.

What Is Valproic Acid?

Valproic (val-PRO-ik) acid is an anticonvulsant medicine that doctors often prescribe to prevent seizures. It’s also used to treat bipolar disorder and to help prevent migraine headaches. It is sometimes used along with other medicines.

Why Are Valproic Acid Tests Done?

Valproic acid blood levels must stay within a specific range for the drug to work properly. Doctors must prescribe enough to prevent symptoms, but not so much that it causes side effects. One of the most serious side effects of valproic acid is liver damage. How quickly the liver can process the drug varies from person to person. So doctors might order the test regularly during treatment.

If a current dose of valproic acid is working well, regular blood tests can help keep the dose steady. If symptoms don't improve or a child has side effects, the test can help doctors find a more effective dose. This close monitoring is extra important if a child takes other medicines too because some can change the way the body uses valproic acid.

Your doctor may recommend getting the test at a specific time (for example, just before your child's daily dose of valproic acid) because drug levels may change throughout the day.

What if I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the valproic acid test, or what the test results mean, speak with your doctor.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: November 2022