A report by the BBC states that up to 70% of women who take Sodium Valproate did not know the risks of the drug in pregnancy. It has been estimated 20,000 children born to mothers that are taking Sodium Valproate have been harmed since the 70s. Harm mostly focuses on a reduced IQ, learning difficulties and Autism.

I am a huge fan of the podcast ‘Inside Health’ by the BBC which also addressed the issue.  The reason I chose to write about this topic is because it is not new information. The effects of Sodium Valproate on fetal development are some of the many facts I learnt for my pre-reg exam.  ‘Neural tube defects’ and ‘women of child-bearing age’ were buzz words in questions that would have me positively screaming Sodium Valproate. Therefore, I am confused as to why it has been so prominent in the press of late. Perhaps it has come to the surface that this is not just a theoretical risk, and with three charities surveying 2000 women, the results are hard hitting.

As healthcare professionals, specifically pharmacists, when should we be questioning these prescriptions? How can parents and prescribers make the decision on behalf of young female children to use a drug that could control their seizures but could risk future children with such strong evidence? Being up to date with health news is crucial and it will be interesting to follow if the release of these results influences prescribing of anti-epileptics for female paediatric patients.


Kathryn Lang

Clinical Pharmacist, U.K.


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