Ghana has been hit by a growing trend of pregnant women taking the skin-lightening pill glutathione in the past few months according to reports.
The women hope to make their unborn babies light-skinned while still in the womb.
According to BBC and B&FT Online, Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has warned women to stop using the pill, saying it is not FDA-approved and therefore illegal.
They stress that using these pills to lighten the skin of unborn babies is dangerous.
The tablets are smuggled into the country via airline-passenger luggage in large quantities – despite medical experts warning that they can cause side effects in a foetus, which can include physical damage to limbs.
“The use of these drugs has gone to an alarming stage; it is ignorance that is making people do so,” the FDA’s head of cosmetics and household chemicals, Emmanuel Nkrumah, said at a media-sensitisation workshop on unapproved bleaching pills and products.
“[The only things] that you take orally should be food, toothpaste and mouthwash, and not bleaching pills,” Nkrumah said.
The FDA says using glutathione pills for this purpose is dangerous, adding that it wants “the general public to know that no product has been approved by the FDA in the form of a tablet to lighten the skin of the unborn child”.