Sodium valproate (also known as Epilim, valproic acid and Depakote) has been used as an epilepsy treatment for decades, being affordable and highly effective for dealing with a range of seizures associated with the condition.

However, there has been growing evidence in recent years that sodium valproate can be a danger to unborn children if taken by their mothers during pregnancy.

Use of the drug by expectant mothers has been connected with a range of issues in their children, including reduced intelligence and autism, however, the most serious health effect associated with the drug is the potential for a child to develop foetal valproate syndrome.

The advice from The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is that sodium valproate should no longer be prescribed to pregnant women of women of childbearing potential.

What is Foetal Valproate Syndrome?

Foetal Valproate Syndrome (FVS), or Foetal Anticonvulsant Syndrome (FACS), is the umbrella term for birth defects caused by exposure of a foetus to valproic acid while in the womb as a result of the mother taking sodium valproate while pregnant.

It is often not immediately obvious when a child is born that they have the condition and it sometimes take months or even years for some of the effects to be picked up on.

Common symptoms of Foetal Valproate Syndrome include:


  • Facial characteristics – including a small upturned nose with a wide bridge and epicanthic folds (where skin from the upper eyelids covers the corner of the eye)
  • Cardiac problems – due to malformation of the heart
  • Spina-bifida – where the spinal cord does not develop properly, leading to issues such as weakness, paralysis and incontinence
  • Cleft-lip/palate – usually requiring surgery to correct, resulting in life-long scarring
  • Genital abnormalities – such as the urinary opening being on the underside of the penis
  • Skeletal abnormalities – including contractions of small joints, long overlapping figures and deformity of the feet

Treating Foetal Valproate Syndrome

There is no cure for Foetal Valproate Syndrome, but there are a number of treatments that can alleviate the symptoms and dramatically improve a child’s quality of life.

These treatments will generally focus on dealing with the individual symptoms associated with Foetal Valproate Syndrome and may include one-off treatments, such as surgery, as well as on-going treatments for issues such as speech problems.

Typical treatments for Foetal Valproate Syndrome include:

Surgical intervention – May be required to correct issues such as a cleft palate, heart defects and those connected to spina bifida.

Speech & language therapy – Is often used where a child has issues with communication, including the effects of a cleft palate.

 Physiotherapy – To deal with issues with movement caused by spina bifida and skeletal abnormalities.

 Behaviour therapy – Which can be helpful where the condition has a cognitive impact.

 Occupational therapy – To help a child develop strategies for dealing with specific tasks they have problems with as a result of their condition.

Claiming compensation for Foetal Valproate Syndrome

There is increasing concern that there was a failure to warn women of the risks of sodium valproate, resulting in a Parliamentary debate and calls for a public inquiry.

If your child has been affected by Foetal Valproate Syndrome, claiming compensation may be essential. It can be used to ensure your child has all the right support in place to deal with the consequences of their condition for their health and lifestyle, giving them the best chance of living a full and happy life.

Sodium valproate claims can be complicated, especially where the claim is being made many years after your child’s birth. It is therefore strongly recommended to work with a solicitor specialising in these types of claims, ensuring they have the necessary expertise to help you secure the compensation your child needs.


It’s often at this time of year, when the kids go back to school and college courses start that we feel something is missing in our lives, as we get older; as this is the time of year for growth and personal expansion in terms of education


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Today, it’s never been easier or more convenient to learn from home thanks to online learning opportunities where you can study a plethora of high level academic courses, such as a RN-BSN program from the convenience of your home.  This is fantastic for those with children who are often trying to juggle family life with other activities such as a full time job, business, or quest for education.

You’ll have more than likely come across the saying “the more you learn the more you earn”, at some point in your life – which, whilst true, should not limit your view of the benefits of education, in that, there is much benefit in terms of personal expansion that is separate to the potential for financial gain.

The expansion in terms of your own personal development with regard to self-confidence and self-esteem can be huge.  In fact, the personal expansion that comes as a result of pursuing higher education has been proven to improve your mental health.

If you have children, it also offers a great way to role model, as kids tend to do what you do rather than what you say.

This means, if you are pointing out the importance of doing your homework, because you are having to do yours – they are much likely to respect and conform to your instruction of them sitting down, and finishing their homework.

In addition, there’s a feeling personal of pride that comes from making progress with anything in life, yet educational courses are particularly good for this, as most are structured in such a way that it is easy to track the progress you are making.

In addition to developing a greater sense of self-esteem and personal pride, there are, of course, a number of financial benefits to consider.

When you consider what the formula for making money boils down to it’s actually pretty simple.  People are compensated in direct proportion with the amount of value they provide; meaning if you want to make more money, you simply need to create more value – and one of the greatest ways you can create more value is to get more experience, knowledge and know-how so that you can work on higher value tasks.

Education comes in many forms, and whilst this article talks specifically about academic education – the benefits in terms of personal expansion are just as prominent when doing independent research, for instance, for a business endeavour.

In fact, whether you’re business minded or not, it can be useful to view education through an entrepreneurial lens, in the sense that you will want to consider the return on time, energy and money that will be created as a result of you undertaking a particular course.

This return on investment paradigm is good to bear in mind when reviewing your options as unless your education has a tangible outcome, for instance, a nursing degree that opens the door to a secure career within nursing, there is little return on investment other than the enjoyment derived from pursuing the course.

Is It Time To Get Back To Learning?

Mum Muddling Through

A study has concluded that private medical care and medicine is set to boom in emerging nations. The research, which was conducted by Swiss Re, has revealed that state-run services are going to be unlikely to keep up with the demand for premium quality health care. This high level of service is not only going to be demanded by expats but local communities as well.


The Swiss Re study came to some interesting conclusions, with the company predicting that the total expenditure on all types of medical cover, including international health and life insurance, will double within the next seven years in developing nations. In terms of figures, two years ago the total spend was calculated at £24 billion / $36 billion, yet Swiss Re predicts that this will hit £54 billion / $79 billion by 2020 in emerging markets. This expenditure is born from the fact that individuals are now demanding greater levels of quality in terms of health services, which will see private services boom across the entire spectrum, from treatment to medicine.

Over recent years, we have seen many progressions in terms of advanced medical technology, and people are becoming more educated about their health. We demand a better quality of life, and it seems that the majority of us are going to turn to private medical care to achieve this. There is no denying that, for the most part, the public hospitals in emerging nations cannot offer the premium quality medical care we are looking for. While there are some exceptions, people recognise that they will need to turn to the private medical centres if they are to receive the standards they demand. This is something we are willing to pay for, especially in the case of expats who often have to pay for public medical care in any case. Some of the private medical centres in developing countries are truly astonishing, boasting the most up to date technology and equipment, rivalling the main medical centres in Europe.


In terms of the spending on private medical cover, treatment and other related products, Swiss Re predict that the greatest growth will occur in emerging Asia countries, where we can see a rise from £6.4 billion / $ 9.4 billion recorded in 2013 to a predicted £21.6 billion / $31.8 billion in 2020. However, significant increases in spending can be seen across the globe. The market in Africa and the Middle East is predicted to double from £5.3 billion / $7.8 billion to £10.6 billion / $15.6 billion, whereas in Latin America the spending is expected to go from £10.1 billion / $14.9 billion to £17.2 billion / $25.3 million.

This is music to the ears for expats, and it also provides a great opportunity for anyone that is interested in nursing or currently works at a hospital in the UK. By taking a Masters in Nursing Online you could have the opportunity to work in some of the best and most impressive hospitals around the world. Plus, there are likely to be more and more job opportunities that come with this.

As you can see, the picture regarding private medical care and medicine seems very positive to say the least! It is certainly something worth keeping an eye on.

Confessions of a New Mummy

Blogging is very much a digital endeavour that we all do for many reasons. However, if there’s one universal thing that all bloggers want to achieve, it’s more viewers and more exposure. After all, writing to a crowd of three people is going to get boring eventually, so naturally, you’d want to increase your audience and get more people talking.

There are many ways to do this, but we believe that one of the best ways to get more attention to your blog is to learn a couple of digital skills that can not only help your blog but will also help in many other digital aspects that involve the internet and design in general.

So in this article, we’ll be discussing five skills that we recommend everyone pick up at some point to help boost their blog and their knowledge of digital skills.


Source: Unsplash

  1. HTML

HTML stands for hypertext markup language and is essentially the programming language used to build websites. With just a notepad file and knowledge of HTML, you could in theory create an entire website. It’s not going to be very safe and the design won’t be as good as a website builder, so why learn HTML?

Simple; because a lot of design elements have technical aspects behind them. Simple things like learning how to create a responsive web design that fits to the device you’re viewing on and optimizing your links and posts can all be done with a little HTML knowledge. HTML classes are incredibly popular among bloggers, and the skills can easily be transferred to a future of web design or technical support as well.

  1. Social Media

While not necessarily a “skill”, learning how to use social media can be one of the best ways to grow your blog. You’ll need to possess excellent communication skills and you also need the drive to engage with readers. Whether it’s responding on social media, creating posts that could potentially go viral or even connecting with influencers, it’s very important to learn to use social media.

Without knowledge of social media, it becomes incredibly difficult to build a faithful audience that you can interact with, so make sure you brush up on your social media marketing skills to grow your audience of readers.

  1. SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization, one of the most popular strategies to help your website get more attention. Every search engine has an algorithm that they follow in order to rank websites based on their popularity and relevance to a search term. While this system can’t really be gamed anymore due to Google’s methods, there are guidelines that you can follow (published by Google themselves) to give you a better chance of appearing higher on a search.

This is a very technical subject, but it generally involves understanding keywords, optimizing meta descriptions and ensuring that your blog is friendly to mobile devices. Many companies pay third parties to optimize their website for SEO, but with a bit of knowledge and work on your own blog, you could optimize your website for search engines with relative ease.

Three Digital Skills That Will Take Your Blog To The Next Level

3 Little Buttons

Anyone that has ever set foot inside zone 6 will know that London is famous for being much more expensive than anywhere else in the UK. Of course, the folks that live there just seem to put up with it, but for someone travelling from another city or country, it can be a big shock! Luckily, there are plenty of ways to see this beautiful city and experience what it has to offer that won’t clear out your wallet before you’ve even begun. Read on to find out what they are.



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Public transport

One of the best ways to see the city is to use the buses, trains, and tubes that crisscross its borders. It one of the cheapest ways as well, and much less expensive than using black cabs or even Ubers.

In fact, you can buy a day travel card that will allow you to use any public transport within zones 1 (central London ) to 6 (outer London) and in-between. You can even use your debit card at the touch ticket points now, and it will automatically take off the cost of your journey up to a set amount. Something that can be hugely convenient and save you money and that you can read more about here.

Museums and galleries

Now, one of the best things to do in London that will cost you nothing is to visit the many galleries and museums that are located there. Something that you can find out more about in my post here.

Of course, one of the most favoured being The National History Museum situated on Cromwell Road. There you will find collections and exhibits on Space, the Ocean, Human Evolution, and most famously Dinosaurs. The building itself built by Alfred Waterhouse in 19th Century is also noteworthy, and of course you can miss the Blue Whale skeleton suspended in main entrance haul, a site that is worth the visit alone.


Of course, the National History Museum is not the only place of note to enjoy for free. In fact, many people head straight for Bankside, where the Tate Modern is located in an old Power Station. Open from 10am to 6pm the Tate Modern is also free to enjoy, and you can augment your visit by crossing the Millenium Bridge over the Thames to get there.


The Tate Modern in an impressive structure.

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Once you arrive head in through the main entrance and discover whether there is a large-scale sculpture exhibition in the main turbine hall. Past ones include metal spiders, cracked concrete, and even twirling slides that allowed visitors to travel from the top to the bottom floor.

Deals and special offers

Now, not everything that is fun in London is free, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay through the nose either. In fact, if you are savvy and use deals, vouchers, and special offers you can do things that would typically cost a great deal more.


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For example, attending an event such as an expo, or taking a Thames river cruise can be made much more affordable by looking for a voucher first. You may even be able to see your favourite plays and musicals in London at a reduced cost by using a ticket website to check and compare prices before you book. Yes, you will have to pay out a little for such an experience, but if the rest of your trip is low cost and almost free, you can use such activities a the main event, and build the rest of your excursion around them.

A note on dining out

Lastly, something that is consistently overpriced in London is the food. This applies whether you are grabbing a sandwich on the go or sitting down to a slap up meal in a restaurant. That is why, if you are not using a voucher or coupon for meals your best bet is to visit a supermarket and grab come picnic items and then head to the nearest park.

Luckily, there are parks of varying sizes dotted all over London, some of the largest and most famous being Regents Park, Crystal Palace Park and Hyde Park in where you can check out the famous speakers corner, hire a deckchair, or feed the ducks with any lunch scraps you may have left over.

Rest assured that won’t be the only one eating alfresco there either unless it’s pouring with rain. Picnicking in the park is also fantastic way of saving the money you do have for more significant and exciting experience when visiting the city of London.

The Skinflint's Guide To London