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Project Team formed for FACS Prevention

Project Team formed for Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome Prevention

Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome New Zealand are pleased to announce a FACS Project Team has been formed in collaboration with ACC Treatment Injury Prevention, Ministry of Health, Medsafe, PHARMAC, Pharmaceutical Society of NZ, HQSC, Te Awakairangi Health, Family Planning, Midwifery Council of NZ, a paediatric neurologist, neurologist, and a mental health sector consultant.

The focus of this group is prevention of FACS. There will be a multi-layered approach, which will include developing and disseminating educational material and system changes.

Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome is a preventable condition caused by women taking an antiepileptic drug (Sodium Valproate) during pregnancy, which is commonly prescribed for epilepsy, mental health conditions, nerve pain management and migraines. The main approach to preventing FACS is to use an alternative, but effective, medication. This must be done under medical supervision.

On 21 June 2016, in Wellington, there will be an opportunity for Community and Non-Government Organisations to take part in an education, workshop and consultation day on a NZ based Sodium Valproate Toolkit that is being designed.

If you are in a community or non-government organisation that directly supports people who take anti-epileptic drugs, please contact . Numbers are limited for this day and registration needs to be completed by 14 June 2016.

“This FACS Project Team is a positive step towards supporting females to make informed decisions, which in turn will help prevent FACS,” says FACS NZ Executive Officer, Denise Astill. “We look forward to seeing a noticeable change in the information being given to females within the next 6-12 months.”

Sodium Valproate has been on the market in New Zealand since 1975. The best research we have available indicates that up to 40% of babies exposed to Sodium Valproate in the womb will be born with significant cognitive and/or physical disabilities, up to 6% will have neurodevelopmental difficulties such as autistic spectrum disorders, and 29% will require additional educational support due to their lower IQ.

FACS NZ recommend pregnant women taking Sodium Valproate get immediate advice from their medical specialist and DO NOT STOP TAKING THEIR MEDICATION.

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