A baby in utero looking out and seeing his/her mother taking valproate is a scenario not to be contemplated. It could be equated to someone being forced to take poison against their will. The result is almost certainly organ damage including brain damage. Beautiful healthy babies forced to ingest poison against their will and ending up with lifelong disability. In cold stark terms this is what is being discussed. A class action by such affected individuals once born and once endowed with human rights and protection, would certainly sober up the situation and rein in any distracted prescribing practices.
This graphic way of reasoning does not take into account the mother’s illness and need for safe treatment, nor the prescribing doctor’s dilemma with imperfect treatments and unpredictable risks to the mother either from epilepsy or bipolar illness. However it is outrageous that thousands of women in Europe and USA are inadvertently taking valproate without knowing what the risks are. A “named patient only” regime by designated prescribers only, may be a safer way to go.
Large court settlements have been awarded to “valproate babies” and it is a sad day for mother and child to have to come to this end, instead of what should and maybe could have been a much happier day (healthy baby and mother). Inevitably due to human error accidents will happen, but what is truly insupportable is that young women and their babies wake up to a sad situation and say “but no body told us.”
Babies in utero are human beings, and at present in most jurisdictions their human rights are put on hold until they reach their majority – birth. How would anyone feel about being disabled for life because they were helplessly poisoned while awaiting their inheritance? The same could be said of foetal alcohol people who were poisoned in utero. A class action by those negligently harmed by valproate or any toxin in utero would focus medical and pharmacological opinion on what safeguards need to be in place. Valproate should have a restricted licence for prescribing only by nominated prescribers and on a named patient basis.
Eugene G Breen‘s response to : “Despite international consensus on the harmful effects of valproate during pregnancy, women should not be denied the human right to make their own decisions after fully informed discussion, say Heather Angus-Leppan and Rebecca Liu”
62/63 Eccles St Dublin 7, Ireland