Epileptic mum backing battle for drug warnings

Janet Williams, of School Lane in Pilling, who has set up a charity and trust for parents whose children have suffered as a result of their mother taking anti-epilepsy drugs whilst pregnant. Janet with her sons Lee (left) and Philip.

Janet Williams, of School Lane in Pilling, who has set up a charity and trust for parents whose children have suffered as a result of their mother taking anti-epilepsy drugs whilst pregnant. Janet with her sons Lee (left) and Philip.

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FYLDE coast parents who believe their children may have been left disabled as a result of the mother taking anti-epilepsy medication while pregnant are being asked to sign an e-petition.

The petition is being supported by Pilling mum-of-two Janet Williams, who has set up a trust and support group for mums and dads of youngsters with foetal anti-convuls ant syndrome.

Janet, 47, of School Lane, is also part of a group of parents fighting through the courts to sue a drug manufacturer for damages.

Janet was pregnant with sons Lee and Philip – now 21 and 20 – when she was taking the drug Epilim, to control her epilepsy.

Both sons have cognitive development and speech and language difficulties, and problems with vision.

She said: “Due to the number of women taking sodium valproate (Epilim) for a whole range of conditions, we are hoping people will sign the e-petition, as it is in the wider public interest. Epilim is also prescribed for conditions such as mental health issues, and migraines, while other anti-convulsants, such as Carbamazepine, are prescribed for trigeminal neuralgia.

“We are hoping if we can encourage people to sign the e-petition, we can reach the 100,000 signatures we need to force the Government to sit up and listen, making it into an issue to be debated in Parliament.

“We are not telling women to stop their medication, but to ensure they consult their doctor, or specialist, for advice, should they think they are pregnant.”

The drug companies deny any wrong-doing, but families claim there were inadequate warnings, in the 1990s, about the harm the drug could cause.

The e-petition calls for more warnings about medication, and potential side-effects.

According to OACS, in 2010, more than 21,500 women aged 20 to 39 were taking sodium valproate for epilepsy, and other conditions.

For information call OACS (Organisation for Anti-Convulsant Syndrome) helpline on (01253) 790022 or visit www.oacs-uk.co.uk.