Around 87 people are diagnosed with epilepsy every day. There are around 35,000 women in the UK who take sodium valproate which is found in the epilepsy medication, Epilim and approximately 375 of them become pregnant each year 1 .
These women need to be aware of the risks of taking sodium valproate during pregnancy. Babies exposed to it can have a 40% risk of developmental problems including, autism, low IQ and learning disabilities 2.
Aside from the risks of neurodevelopmental disorders, taking Epilim while pregnant can increase the risk of birth defects, such as cleft palate, by between 10 to 40% 1. A European review of sodium valproate found that up to 40% of children born to women who took sodium valproate during pregnancy experienced adverse effects. These children demonstrated problems including neurodevelopmental disorders as they grew.
A medical journal in November 2004 highlighted the long term cognitive problems such as autism, ADHD, low IQ, learning disabilities and speech problems in children whose mothers took sodium valproate during pregnancy. Doctors should be advising women of the associated risks of taking the medication when they are pregnant. It is negligent not to advise a mother of the risks and refer her for further specialist advice regarding her epilepsy medication.
If you require legal advice on any concerns you may have in relation to the above please do not hesitate to contact Taylor & Emmet LLP on 0114 218 4000 and ask to speak to someone in the clinical negligence team. We may be able to assist you on a no win no fee basis if you have a potential case.
1 Epilepsy Action 2017