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Nurse-led project helps women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

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Nurses at The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust have helped devise a short animation designed to aid women with epilepsy plan and prepare for pregnancy.

The colourful and engaging animation came out of a study to explore the information needs of young people with the condition, which revealed a lack of information about medication and getting pregnant to be a key concern.

“We want to reassure people that normal pregnancy is achievable alongside treating epilepsy”

Janine Winterbottom

Janine Winterbottom, an epilepsy advanced nurse specialist at the trust, said: “People who took part in the study, young women in particular, felt they needed more support and the animation is an appropriate media to introduce these important topics.

“We want to reassure people that normal pregnancy is achievable alongside treating epilepsy,” she said.

She worked on the Knowledge of Epilepsy During Transition for Young People with Epilepsy study – also known as the Trophy Study – with clinical psychologist Jacqui Vinten and neurology nurse Julie Lynch, and has led the animation project.

It also follows charity survey results revealed last month that suggested warnings about the risk posed by taking the epilepsy drug sodium valproate during pregnancy were note reaching patients.

The trust’s new four-minute animated film highlights the importance of getting contraception right and seeking expert advice before trying for a baby, including discussing medication.

“It’s so important that young people with epilepsy are knowledgeable about their condition and their options when it comes to planning to have children,” said Ms Winterbottom.

“This animation was made with the help of young people with epilepsy, and is a great signpost towards what steps to take,” she added.

“The animation will hopefully give young people with epilepsy the confidence to talk to their nurse”

Janine Winterbottom

The animation emphasises that epilepsy teams are there to help every step of the way from preconception to after birth and stresses that people should never simply stop taking epilepsy drugs as this can be dangerous.

“If you have epilepsy and want to have a baby, the first thing is to do is to speak with your epilepsy specialist,” said Ms Winterbottom.

“Preparation is everything, as it gives the opportunity to review your epilepsy and make any adjustments needed before you become pregnant,” she said.

“Some drugs such as Epilim or valproate are higher risk, and need to be highlighted, and your epilepsy specialists can help you navigate the best course of action,” she added.

Ms Winterbottom said she hoped the animation would help ensure young people sought further expert advice and guidance.

“The animation will hopefully give young people with epilepsy the confidence to talk to their nurse or GP and get the appropriate advice,” she said.

“Planning a family can be daunting enough without having to work around a neurological disorder like epilepsy,” she noted.

The new animation is one of a number of resources produced with the help of young people who took part in the Trophy Study, including a leaflet and animation on the transition from child to adult services.

In September, a survey indicated many women were not receiving safety warnings about the dangers of sodium valproate for unborn babies.

Of the 475 currently taking the drug, 68% said they had not received the new warnings known as the valproate toolkit.

A toolkit was launched early in 2016, after the European Medicines Agency told bodies, including the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, to improve information for patients.

The toolkit included printed patient warnings in GP surgeries, hospitals and pharmacies, with up-to-date information on the risks of neuro-developmental disorders associated with taking the drug.

Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

Nurse-led project helps women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Animation to help women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

Nurse-led project helps women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Animation to help women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

Nurse-led project helps women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Animation to help women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

Nurse-led project helps women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Animation to help women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

Nurse-led project helps women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Animation to help women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

Nurse-led project helps women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Animation to help women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

Nurse-led project helps women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

Animation to help women with epilepsy plan pregnancy

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