To all pregnant women: Bleach your unborn baby’s skin at its own peril
Women in Ghana have been warned against a growing trend for taking pills during pregnancy to lighten the skin of their unborn babies while they are still in the womb.
Medical experts say these illegal drugs can cause birth defects, including damage to limbs and internal organs.
Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) says using Glutathione pills for this purpose is dangerous, adding that it has not approved any product to lighten the skin of the unborn child.
The practice is growing in Ghana, according to the FDA, with pills often smuggled into the country inside luggage at airports in large quantities.
Although comprehensive data has not yet been gathered, the body says market surveillance and stakeholder activity have helped to reveal the trend among women crosses socio-economic divides.
Security agencies and police are working together to arrest and prosecute companies and individuals in possession of the illegal tablets.
In January, Ghana hit the headlines when the Ghanaian Immigration Service (GIS) disqualified candidates with bleached skin and stretch marks from a massive recruitment exercise. Those with tattoos, dreadlocks and “bow legs” were also disqualified from the exercise.
A GIS spokesman told the BBC that it was because people with such marks might bleed during the “strenuous” training but some Ghanaians condemned the bar as sexist and unfair.