Fetal Anticonvulsant Syndrome (FACS)
Diseases & symptoms linked to drugs Drugs in pregnancy
Sodium Valproate (Epilim)
[2012 May] Why are doctors still not warning about the 'new Thalidomide'? Mother tells how taking an anti-epileptic drug while pregnant devastated the heath of two of her children It has been prescribed since 1978 and reports of the ingredient sodium valproate causing birth defects such as spina bifida go back almost as far. FACS is believed to have affected up to 20,000 babies – ten times more than Thalidomide. FACS is thought to be caused in the first three months of pregnancy when an anti-epileptic drug crosses the placenta into the foetus. Effects depend on the dosage and the drug. There are three FACS syndromes, each involving different anti-epileptic drugs and each with their own set of symptoms. In 2010, Epilim was taken by more than 21,500 women aged between 20 and 39 for epilepsy and other conditions. It is indicated in 80 per cent of cases of FACS.