Three of the UK’s epilepsy charities have created a survey to assess how aware women aged 16-50 are about the possible risks of taking sodium valproate during pregnancy. It launched on Monday, April 18 and will run for the next six weeks.
Epilepsy Action, Epilepsy Society and Young Epilepsy put the survey together with the help of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The survey will also aim to find out how well healthcare professionals explain possible risks of taking this medication to women with epilepsy.
Valproate-based medicines are used to treat epilepsy as well as other conditions like bipolar disorder. Valproate medicines for epilepsy are sold under brand names like Epilim, Epilim Chrono, Epilim Chronosphere, Episenta and Epival.
According to the MHRA, around four in 10 babies born to mothers taking valproate are at risk of a developmental disorder. About one in 10 babies is at risk of being born with physical birth defects.
The MHRA released a toolkit in February this year to help healthcare professionals inform women with epilepsy about these risks. The survey will hope to gauge how effective this toolkit has been so far.
Epilepsy Action believes women of a childbearing age taking sodium valproate should ask their doctors about risks and discuss their options. It is important that women do not stop taking their medication before speaking to their doctors, as they may risk a breakthrough seizure.
You can take the survey here.