Some years ago, I came across a family with two children suffering from this syndrome. This 'new' illness has affected 37,500 children in Britain, according to the British Epilepsy Association. FACS produces a range of neural, behavioural, and physical disorders, and can include conditions such as cleft palate and spina bifida, learning difficulties, behavioural problems and abnormalities in movement, speech, vision and hearing.
So what is FACS, and where does it come from?
Yet another new, strange and rare disease with no known cause? Well, not really, the cause is well known.
These children were damaged in the womb when the mother had taken anti-convulsant drugs, such as Epilim and Carbamazepine.
So FACS is, in fact, another conventional medical 'mistake', another disaster for parents and families where the 'science' of drug testing and drug regulation has proven to be no safeguard to public safety. At the time of writing, this condition has had little publicity, but this, in itself, is something that should be a matter of public concern.
Janet Williams, who has two sons affected by FACS, founded the Organisation for Anti-Convulsant Syndrome (OACS). She says:
"We want to hear from any family with a child with problems whose mother took any anti-epileptic drug in pregnancy".
She goes on to say that many of these children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). What do the drug companies say about it? Well, the usual denials.
* Anti-epileptic drugs are vital to the health of people with epilepsy, who should not stop taking them without consulting their doctor (so it is a balancing act again, weighing up the 'benefits' and the 'risks' of taking drugs).
* Health authorities regularly routinely and continually review the safety of all licensed medications (including, presumably, these drugs, so no comfort for the children or their parents who suffer from FACS).
* That warnings were given about valproate (the basic ingredient of epileptic drugs) in respect of possible effects in children born to mothers taking the product during pregnancy, and that "this information was approved by the regulatory authorities as consistent with current scientific knowledge" (which suggests that the dangers of the drugs were known to medical authorities, but they were prescribed to patients anyway).