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We aimed to evaluate clinical note documentation of valproate prescribing and establish the level of knowledge among women of child-bearing potential regarding valproate-associated adverse effects, including teratogenesis, in a regional Irish mental health service.
Of the 42 women prescribed sodium valproate, 21.4% (n = 9) had some documentation in relation to associated risks and 33.3% (n = 14) described an awareness of these risks from consultation with their treating mental health team. On clinical interview, 9.5% (n = 4) of individuals with clear documentation of the risks of teratogenesis described no such awareness. Augmentation with lithium was associated with greater awareness of the teratogenic risks of valproate (P = 0.011).
A clear description of the teratogenic risks of valproate and potential management strategies, including advice regarding contraception and supplementation with folic acid, should be clearly documented and provided repeatedly and in context to all women of child-bearing age who are prescribed valproate.