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‘Epilepsy drug harmed three of my children but I have to stay positive’

PUBLISHED: 16:21 08 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:40 08 July 2020

Julie Marjot took sodium valproate during pregnancy and it had a devastating impact on her children. 
Picture: Archant/ANTONY KELLY

Julie Marjot took sodium valproate during pregnancy and it had a devastating impact on her children. Picture: Archant/ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

A mother whose children were born with disabilities after she took a drug for her epilepsy has called on the government to bring in every recommendation of an inquiry exposing how the health system failed to protect patients.

Julie Marjot took sodium valproate during pregnancy and it had a devastating impact on her children. Photo: ArchantJulie Marjot took sodium valproate during pregnancy and it had a devastating impact on her children. Photo: Archant

A review published on Wednesday into three NHS scandals, including epilepsy drug sodium valproate, found patients were “dismissed” and “overlooked”.

The healthcare system has a “glacial” and “defensive” response to concerns over treatments, the inquiry found.

Review chair Baroness Julia Cumberlege said she was shocked by the “sheer scale” and “intensity of suffering”.

“Much of this suffering was entirely avoidable, caused and compounded by failings in the health system itself,” she said.

Julie Marjot's daughter Chloe, was on life support when she was born. 
Picture: Julie MarjotJulie Marjot's daughter Chloe, was on life support when she was born. Picture: Julie Marjot

Julie Marjot, from Wymondham, met Baroness Cumberlege last year to tell her about the impact sodium valproate had on her family.

She takes the drug for her epilepsy and before having children checked with her doctor if it was safe.

The 48-year old said she was told by her GP it could cause cleft palate or Down’s Syndrome, but she was not told of the other huge impacts which are now apparent.

Three of her four children suffered problems, including her eldest daughter Chloe, now 23, who was on life support for the first month of her life.

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She also has epilepsy, dyslexia and a cataract.

Their second child, Robert, had no issues but their third, Charlie, 14, has autism, was born with a hole in the heart, hearing problems and has been diagnosed with fetal valproate syndrome (FVS).

Their youngest child, Faye, 10, was born with a cleft palate and a hole in the heart. Her thumbs are also not in the right place and she has hearing problems.

“I have to stay positive otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get up each day,” she said.

See also: Why weren’t mums warned about epilepsy drug?

Mrs Marjot, who now lives in Southampton, called on the government to implement all of Baroness Cumberlege’s findings, including setting up a patient safety commission.

“I want to work with the government and look at what can be done going forward,” she said. “We call all point fingers but we also need to find a resolution.”

Other findings included an apology to all the families affected was required.


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