As part of efforts to reduce Foetal Alcoholic Spectrum Disorders in women, the Ghana Organisation on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (GOFAS) has embarked on a nation wide educational campaign to advocate against alcohol consumption, especially by pregnant women and women of child bearing age.
The campaign, which aims at educating the general public on what to look out for in a child with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome in order for parents and teachers to seek medical attention, also seeks to create the awareness of the dangers of Alcohol consumption.
Speaking at a Press Conference in Accra yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer of the organization Mrs. Amanorbea Opoku-Boakye noted that 'doing the right thing to have a healthy baby includes abstaining from taking alcohol' adding that a pregnant woman must not be a persistent heavy drinker of alcohol for it to have a detrimental effect on her developing baby.
She observed that a foetus could be affected by alcohol consumption within the earliest weeks of conception and even before a woman knows that she is pregnant.
She said by the third week to the nineteenth and twenty first day of gestation, the central nervous system begins to form and that if a pregnant woman drinks at any given time, the development of the organ is being jeopardized, adding that alcohol poses danger by crossing the placenta barrier and through the umbilical cord to the foetus
Mrs Amanorbea Opoku-Boakye pointed out that, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a physical birth defect in the forms of physical, behavioral and cognitive disorders seen in individuals exposed to alcohol pre-natally.
She mentioned that, features associated with full blown Foetal Alcohol Syndrome includes growth retardation, abnormalities in the central nervous system and facial abnormalities with features such as small eyes openings, short philtrum, thin upper lip, low set jaw and ears as well as small head circumference.
She urged on all stakeholders to work together in order to eliminate the menace of alcohol to unborn children and the society at large and was hopeful that the Ministry of Education will incorporate child mental health and special education into the Ghanaian education curriculum.
In his remarks the Deputy Minister for Information and National Orientation Hon. Frank Agyekum said although Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is not widely known, it is an important aspect of health in the sense that all human beings go through the first 9 months in the womb and thus what goes into the body affects the unborn child.
The Media Coordinator in charge of Special Duties at the Ministry of Information and National Orientation Mr Nii Bi AyIbontey in a statement called on the organizers to involve District Assemblies in the planning of their programmes since they work closely with the people.