What do I need to know about sodium valproate and pregnancy?

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22 March 2017
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In light of recent concerns about the potentially harmful effects of some anti-epileptic drugs – particularly sodium valproate – on an unborn baby, Medicines for Children has developed an information leaflet specifically for girls and young women about the risks of becoming pregnant while taking valproate. This addresses a need for tailored, age-specific information to make sure that girls and young women who are taking sodium valproate understand why it is vital to use contraception if having sex.

Please click on the following links to view the information leaflet on sodium valproate and pregnancy, which is available to read online or to download in a one page leaflet format (PDF). (The information is the same online or in leaflet format).

The leaflet provides the following key messages for girls and young women about sodium valproate and pregnancy.

  • Sodium valproate is a highly effective medicine for the treatment of epilepsy.
  • It is vital that you do not become pregnant while taking sodium valproate because it can harm your developing baby.
  • You can discuss contraception with your doctor, epilepsy team, or family planning services – make sure they know that you are taking sodium valproate.
  • If there is any chance you might be pregnant, talk to an adult you trust and contact your doctor or nurse straightaway for advice and support. Continue to take your medicine in the meantime.
  • Do not stop taking sodium valproate, as you may have more seizures.

In addition to this new information leaflet, Medicines for Children hosts a more general information leaflet for parents and carers that has advice on how to give sodium valproate, available here: www.medicinesforchildren.org.uk/sodium-valproate-preventing-seizures