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19 January 2018

Research suggests epilepsy drug may affect future generations


BBC 1’s Inside Out London tonight reported on research from Konkuk University in South Korea which has suggested that disabilities caused by the epilepsy drug sodium valproate could affect future generations.

The research was carried out on three generations of mice. Scientists at the university said that autism spectrum disorder-like behavioural changes seen in first generation mice exposed to valproate, could also be seen in third generation mice which had not been exposed to the medication in the womb.

In the BBC report, the MHRA – Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – said that while the study had ‘many limitations’, some families affected by sodium valproate, believe this has happened to them.

Responding to the programme, Professor Ley Sander, medical director at Epilepsy Society said: ‘It is only now that children, born to mothers who were prescribed sodium valproate during pregnancy, are starting to have families of their own.  

“The study from Korea is obviously looking at three generations of mice and although the results are significant, what happens in mice is not always replicated in humans.

“It is important that any families who are concerned should consult their GP or neurologist so that they can be given the most up to date advice and support. It is always good to seek preconception counselling where possible.”

Where to find help

Our epilepsy helpline 01494 601400  is open on Monday and Tuesday 9am-4pm and Wednesday 9am-7.30pm. Please call us if you would like to discuss these issues or any other concerns around epilepsy.

Read more about the guidelines around sodium valproate for women and girls of childbearing age.

For more support and information about fetal anti-convulsant syndrome, contact:

Fetal Anti Convulsant Syndrome Association

OACS Organisation for Anti-Convulsant Syndrome

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