Wyre woman's campaign to increase awareness of epilepsy drug before pregnancy

Janet Williams with her sons Lee Williams and Philip Williams
Janet Williams with her sons Lee Williams and Philip Williams

A Fylde coast woman who is campaigning to increase awareness of the dangers of taking a powerful epilepsy drug before pregnancy says the fight will go on, following  worrying results from  a new survey.

Janet Williams, 52, of School Lane, Pilling, successfully campaigned to have warning labels put on boxes of the drug epilim, which can cause unborn babies to develop birth defects, heart problems, and learning disabilities.

Despite this success, the warnings are still not getting through to many women.

And in a new BBC survey, it emerged that almost 70 per cent of women spoken to about the drug have not received new safety warnings about the dangers of taking it during pregnancy.

Epilim, also known sodium valproate, carries a 10 per cent risk of physical abnormalities in unborn babies.

Around 20,000 children have been adversely affected in the UK since the 1970s, including Mrs Williams’ own sons, Lee and Philip, now in their 20s.

Mrs Williams said: “We knew that more needed to be done.

“What needs to happen is that it should be mandatory for doctors to warn women face to face about the potential dangers.”

She backs the Epilepsy Society stance, calling on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to make immediate changes to prevent GPs issuing repeat prescriptions to women for more than a year without face-to-face consultations with them.

Mrs Williams co-founded of the Fetal Anti Convulsant Syndrome Association, which helps get the warnings across.

Visit www.facsa.org.uk for more information.