foods pregnant woman bleaching

A new craze is sweeping across Ghana involving pregnant women. Unfortunately it’s not a good one. Thousands of mothers-to-be are bleaching their unborn babies’ skin. They swallow Glutathione pills, which Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority insists are illegal.

Glutahione is harmful to the unborn- causes damage to internal organs, limbs and various birth defects. A 2016 report by The New York Times revealed that 70% of women in West Africa use skin bleaching creams. This is despite the well-known negative effects of such products on the skin and kidneys.

Last August, Ghana’s FDA banned certain products containing hydroquinone, a harmful chemical that inhibits the production of melanin. However, skin-lightening creams are still readily available in the streets. The last few months have seen an increase in smuggling of these creams in large quantities through airports. The products are hidden in luggage.

Skin bleaching has been with  us for a long time. It’s a multifaceted problem but one of the major causes is the effect of colonialism. Light-skinned people were considered beautiful. Chocolate-coloured skin was frowned upon. Years of this mental conditioning led to the uptake of bleaching by women at the darker end of the spectrum. This latest trend however points to the severity of the problem. More needs to be done to help these women see the beauty of their natural complexion.

Emanuel Nkrumah, the FDA’s head of cosmetics and household chemicals had this to say on the matter: The use of these drugs has gone to an alarming stage; it is ignorance that is making people do so. [The only things] that you take orally should be food, toothpaste and mouthwash, and not bleaching pills.” He was speaking at a media sensitization workshop on unapproved bleaching pills and products.


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