This leaflet is about the use of sodium valproate to prevent epileptic seizures. (Seizures may also be called convulsions or fits.)
This leaflet has been written specifically about the use of this medicine in children. The information may differ from that provided by the manufacturer. Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.
Do not stop giving sodium valproate suddenly, as your child may have more seizures.
Sodium valproate (or valproic acid)
Brand names: Epilim® ,Orlept® ,Episenta®,Convulex®
It is important that your child takes sodium valproate regularly so that they have fewer seizures.
Sodium valproate is available in different forms and different doses. It comes as tablets, capsules, granules, special tablets that you can crush, or as a liquid. Some liquid forms may contain sugar.
You will usually give sodium valproate twice each day: once in the morning and once in the evening. Ideally, these times are
10–12 hours apart, for example some time between 7 and 8 am, and between 7 and 8 pm.
Epilim Chrono® is usually given only in the evening. However, your doctor may have told you to give it in the morning.
Your doctor will work out the amount of sodium valproate (the dose) that is right for your child. The dose will be shown on the medicine label.
When you first start giving sodium valproate to your child, you will give them a small amount and then increase the dose bit by bit over a few days or weeks. This helps your child to get used to the medicine. Your doctor will explain what to do.
It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions about how much to give.
Tablets: These tablets must be swallowed whole with a glass of water, juice or milk. Do not crush these tablets.
Crushable tablets: Crush the tablet and mix it with a small amount of soft food (e.g. yogurt) or a small drink. Your child should swallow the food or drink straight away, without chewing it. Make sure that they take it all.
Capsules should be swallowed whole with a glass of water, juice or milk. Your child should not chew the capsules.
Granules: Sprinkle or stir the granules into a small amount of soft food (e.g. yogurt) or a small drink. Your child should then swallow the food or drink straight away, without chewing it. Make sure that they take it all.
Liquid or syrup: Measure out the right amount using an oral syringe or medicine spoon. You can get these from your pharmacist. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the right amount.
It may take a few weeks for sodium valproate to work properly, so your child may still have seizures for a while. Continue to give the medicine in the way that you have been told to.
Never give a ‘double dose’ of sodium valproate.
If you think you may have given your child too much sodium valproate, contact your doctor or NHS Direct (see end of leaflet) or take your child to hospital. Take the medicine container or pack with you, even if it is empty. This will be useful to the doctor. Have the packet with you if you telephone for advice.
We use medicines to make our children better, but sometimes they cause effects that we don’t want (side-effects).
Side-effects that you must do something about
If your child gets bad stomach pains or starts being sick (vomits) often, or both, take them to your doctor or hospital straight away. Your child may have a serious problem called pancreatitis.
Children occasionally get serious liver disease when taking sodium valproate. If your child starts being sick every few hours, has stomach pains, is very sleepy, gets jaundice (the skin or eyes look yellowy) or has more seizures than usual, take them to your doctor or hospital straight away.
Other side-effects you need to know about
Your child may get these side-effects when they first start taking sodium valproate. They will usually settle down within a week or so as their body gets used to the medicine. Continue to give sodium valproate to your child as your doctor has told you to.
Do not suddenly stop giving any of these medicines to your child, as they may have a seizure. If you are worried, talk to your doctor but carry on giving the medicine to your child as usual.
If your child seems to have more seizures than usual, contact your doctor or your epilepsy nurse.
Do not change the dose of any drug without talking to your doctor first.
If you think someone else may have taken the medicine by accident, contact your doctor straight away.
Your child’s hospital doctor, epilepsy nurse or pharmacist will be able to give you more information about sodium valproate and other medicines used to treat epilepsy.
Version 1.2, February 2008 (November 2011). © NPPG, RCPCH and WellChild 2011, all rights reserved.
The primary source for the information in this leaflet is the British National Formulary for Children. For details on any other sources used for this leaflet, please contact us through our website, www.medicinesforchildren.org.uk
We take great care to make sure that the information in this leaflet is correct and up-to-date. However, medicines can be used in different ways for different patients. It is important that you ask the advice of your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure about something. This leaflet is about the use of these medicines in the UK, and may not apply to other countries. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (NPPG), WellChild and the contributors and editors cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information, omissions of information, or any actions that may be taken as a consequence of reading this leaflet.