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Epilepsy charities call for women taking anti-seizure drug to be told of pregnancy risks

Health experts and epilepsy charities have repeated calls to Jeremy Hunt to ensure all women taking a drug to control their seizures have a yearly consultation to discuss risks of the drug associated with pregnancy.

Charities have repeated calls for women women on an epilepsy drug which can lead to learning disabilities in children to have a yearly consultation to discuss the risks of taking the drug during pregnancy.

The call was made during an evidence session at the European Medicines Agencys public hearing into sodium valproate.

The Epilepsy Society says between 30% and 40% of children exposed to sodium valproate while in their mother's womb can experience delays in early development such as walking and talking, and have learning disabilities and memory problems.

Consultations

One in 10 babies born to mothers taking sodium valproate have birth defects such as spina bifida, the society adds.

The society believes that repeat prescriptions for the drug should not be routinely reviewed without a face-to-face consultations with a doctor or nurse.

Although NHS guidance recommends a

Charities have repeated calls for women women on an epilepsy drug which can lead to learning disabilities in children to have a yearly consultation to discuss the risks of taking the drug during pregnancy.


Picture: iStock

The call was made during an evidence session at the European Medicines Agency’s public hearing into sodium valproate.

The Epilepsy Society says between 30% and 40% of children exposed to sodium valproate while in their mother's womb can experience delays in early development such as walking and talking, and have learning disabilities and memory problems.

Consultations

One in 10 babies born to mothers taking sodium valproate have birth defects such as spina bifida, the society adds.

The society believes that repeat prescriptions for the drug should not be routinely reviewed without a face-to-face consultations with a doctor or nurse.

Although NHS guidance recommends a 12-monthly review for epilepsy, the guidelines are not mandatory, it adds.

Problems

A joint survey by the Epilepsy Society and charities Young Epilepsy and Epilepsy Action revealed that of more 2,000 women with epilepsy who responded four in 10 (41%) were unaware of the risks. Of the 515 currently taking sodium valproate, 18% were unaware of risks of the drug associated with pregnancy.

It also said that between January and June last year about 28,000 females aged 14 to 45 across the UK received a prescription for sodium valproate.

Epilepsy Society chief executive Clare Pelham said: ‘I hope that Jeremy Hunt is listening. I hope he will make sure that from this day onwards every woman and girl who is prescribed this medication will be warned of the risks during pregnancy.’


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