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MP calls for more support for pregnant women with epilepsy

PUBLISHED: 09:32 02 March 2015 | UPDATED: 09:32 02 March 2015

Teresa Pearce during the debate

Teresa Pearce during the debate

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Teresa Pearce says more must be done to inform mothers of drug side effects

ERITH and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce has raised the issue of risks to pregnant women from an epilepsy drug in the House of Commons.

A report last week revealed that 25 per cent of mothers were not aware of the risks of taking sodium valproate, which has been known to increase the risk of cleft palate and spina bifida in babies since the 1970s. New research has also indicated that some babies exposed to the drug have mental health issues.

The drug’s manufacturers say they have always warned about its dangers, which are indeed widely publicised.

Mrs Pearce said: “It is scandalous that women are not being provided with pre-conception counselling and information about their medication.

“The science is available to help women with epilepsy have safe pregnancies, and yet many mothers are being denied this support.

“Sodium valproate is prescribed to women for a number of conditions in addition to epilepsy, and we need to ensure that women are fully aware of the side-effects.

“This is a massive failing in the system, and is something the Government must address as a matter of urgency.”

The debate was secured by South Thanet MP Laura Sandys.

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