The Epilepsy drug, Sodium Valproate, is back in the news

Specialist Clinical Negligence Solicitors, Lime, are concerned to read that Sodium Valproate, the epilepsy drug which poses risks to pregnant women and their babies, is hitting the headlines once again.

It has been known for a long time now that Sodium Valproate prescribed to pregnant women can increase the risk of their babies being born with a cleft palate and spina bifida. However, more recent research has reported that some babies who have been exposed to this drug have developed mental problems.

Worryingly, a recent survey has found that 25% of mothers are unaware of the risks posed by the drug, resulting in growing concerns from mothers-to-be who feel that they should have been given more information about the risks of the drug and the impact that it can have on their children. It has been quoted that the drug can increase the risk of physical birth defect by 10% and the increased risk of spina bifida is 20 times higher.

The author of the new study is Dr Gus Baker, a Neuropsychologist, who followed up 600 babies from their birth to age six. Dr Baker states “we found out that children exposed to Sodium Valproate were at a greater risk of intellectual delay, memory problems, language difficulties and behavioural problems” and he concluded that children born to mothers taking Sodium Valproate are up to six times more likely to be diagnosed with autism.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Sodium Valproate has hit the headlines. In 2010, a landmark case brought by the families of disabled children failed because the Legal Aid funding was withdrawn. The action, which involved 100 children, therefore collapsed against Sanofi-aventis, the manufacturers of Sodium Valproate, leaving the families without justice and wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal costs.

National Guidelines insist that all women of child-bearing age with epilepsy should be informed about the risks posed by the drug and the damage it can cause to their unborn babies.

Solicitors in the Lime Clinical Negligence team therefore worry that women continue to be misinformed and are not being properly told about the dangers posed by the drug at the time when it is being prescribed, allowing them to properly understand the risks posed by the drug to their children. With the risks of the drug having been known for a long time, the onus is on the person prescribing the drug to ensure that their patient fully understands the risks, giving them an opportunity to consider alternatives, especially where they are pregnant or planning a family.

If you, or a loved one, have suffered or are worried because Sodium Valproate has been prescribed during a pregnancy please contact Lime’s expert Clinical Negligence lawyers on Freephone 0808 164 0808 for a free no-obligation chat. Alternatively, you can complete the request a request a call back form and we will call you.