Use of valproate (eg, Epilim, Episenta) and valproic acid (Convulex, Depakote) was recently restricted, after a Europe-wide review found that children exposed to the drugs in utero are at high risk of serious developmental disorders including autism and congenital malformations.
Materials are now available to help healthcare professionals communicate these risks to girls and women of childbearing potential. The resources comprise:
- Booklet for healthcare professionals
- Consultation checklist
- Guide to give to patients
- Card to give to patients
GPs are reminded that valproate treatment must be started and supervised by a specialist experienced in managing epilepsy or bipolar disorder.
For women of childbearing potential and girls who are currently taking valproate, consider whether to arrange a treatment review with their specialist. If the woman tells you she is pregnant or would like to have a baby, she should be referred to her specialist.
GPs are reminded to continue reporting any suspected side-effects of valproate on a Yellow Card.