July 15, 2020
Patricia Ryan TD calls on Minister for Health to implement report on foetal health

Sinn Féin TD for Kildare South (including the Portarlington area of Laois) has called on the Minister for Health to implement the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health recommendations on sodium valproate and foetal anticonvulsant syndrome. 

Speaking today Patricia said: “Action needs to be taken now! This report is around for over 2 years and there is no point in wasting everyone’s time by not making any effort to implement it. Foetal anticonvulsant syndrome is in many cases preventable and we need to give these children the best start in life.

“Foetal anticonvulsant syndrome (FACS) is a group of malformations that can affect some babies if they are exposed to certain medicines known as anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) while in the womb. Unborn babies exposed to valproate have an 11% chance of congenital malformations compared to 2% in the general population. Such malformations include: malformations of the limbs, heart and kidneys; facial and skull malformations, such as cleft lip and palate; spina bifida.

“Valproate can also have adverse effects on the mental and physical development of children. Evidence shows up to 40% of children exposed to valproate while in the womb will develop neurodevelopmental disorders. Children exposed to valproate are three times more likely to develop autistic spectrum disorder and five times as likely to develop childhood autism, compared to children not exposed to the drug. Initial studies have also revealed that exposure to valproate greatly increases the likelihood of developing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”

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