Women desiring to have babies were on Thursday advised to keep off alcohol, since the consumption of those beverages, especially during pregnancy had devastating and lasting effects on the children.

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) preaching abstention, The Ghana Organisation on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (GOFAS) said, “a pregnant woman does not have to be a persistently heavy drinker of alcohol for it to have a detrimental effect on her developing baby.

“Alcohol poses danger by crossing the placenta barrier and through the umbilical cord to the foetus,” Mrs Amanorbea Opoku-Boakye, Chief Executive Officer, GOFAS, said at a press conference in Accra.

She demonstrated the effect of alcohol on the foetus, by pouring some alcohol on a broken egg and said the changes resulting from the experiment were detrimental to any human life.

Mrs Opoku-Boakye said the baby of an alcoholic mother may lose some vital cells, which could impair growth, resulting in life-long permanent disorders of memory function, impulse control and judgement.

“The brain is what controls the rest of the development of the baby so if a pregnant woman drinks at any given time, the development of an organ is being jeopardised,” Mrs Opoku-Boakye said.

She said doing the right thing in order to have a healthy baby was abstaining from alcohol totally.

Mrs Opoku-Boakye said some of the symptoms of children who were affected by alcohol abuse by their mothers during pregnancy included growth retardation, abnormalities in the central nervous system, facial abnormalities with features such as small eye openings, thin upper lip, low set jaw and low set ears and an overall small head circumference.

She called on stakeholders to join the crusade to sensitise child-bearing women or women planning to conceive to abstain from alcohol to save the children and the nation, since: “A healthy brain is a healthy nation”.

“The acceptance that a person has depression due to once prenatal exposure to alcohol would help families to deal with and help that person so that they do not fall into deeper depression which would lead them to confinement in mental institutions,” she said.

Mrs Opoku-Boakye said the consumption of alcohol in Ghana was on the rise but the concern should be towards women of childbearing age who would be the producers of the nation’s future generation.

Source: GNA