Dr Eben Badoe delivering his presentation on the overview of FAS cases in the country
A KPETESHIE , A home brewed local alcoholic spirit, is the leading cause of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in Ghana, diagnosis from the Department of Child Health (DCH), University of Ghana Medical School, (UGMS) has revealed.
The findings from the diagnosis conducted between 2007 and 2010 indicated that out of 10 cases of FAS diagnosed at the CDH of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), seven were from the consumption of Akpeteshie by pregnant women.
Dr Eben Badoe, from the Department of Child Health, UGMS, said 20.4 percent of pregnant women drank significant amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
‘The preferred drink was Akpeteshie, Liquor and Ginseng,’ he said.
He disclosed this during the second National Awareness Campaign and International Research Presentations on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder aimed at enhancing public awareness about the risks of parental alcohol consumption and the need for prevention programmes.
The two day conference was attended by Ghanaian and international researchers, policy makers, practitioners, educators, graduate students and people whose lives have been affected by FASD, and to create the platform to present information that would highlight the problems of FASD which poses serious health risk to unborn babies in Ghana.
Giving an overview of documented cases of FAS in children, Dr Badoe noted that the Upper West and East regions recorded the highest level of alcohol consumption according to the Ghana Demographic Survey, 2010.
He said children with FAS showed characteristics of low birth rates, difficulties in breathing and poor weight gain, learning difficulties and failing to thrive.
He also noted that seven to eight out of the 10 cases of alcohol related birth defects also recorded cases of hernia and heart diseases such as hole-in- heart.
Dr Badoe, therefore, stressed the importance for physicians to know and understand the facial profile of newly-born babies to enable diagnosis across the country.
‘We need data to be able to solve this public health issue which is preventable,’ he noted.
Regina Amanorbea Dodoo, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Organisation on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (GOFAS), organisers of the event, expressed worry over the lack of support channelled to initiatives to improve public health issues like FAS in the country.
‘It is our collective national responsibility to pay attention to initiatives to draw attention to the national problem,’ she said.
She, therefore, advised women to abstain from drinking alcohol once they get pregnant.
The Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Joanna Adamson, supporting the action on FAS said her country was pleased to be associated with the initiative and support it with the grant from its direct aide programme.
She said it was important to educate people about FAS and the dangers about drinking during pregnancy, hence the Australia’s support to the national awareness campaign.
‘I hope this would lead to concerted outcomes to enhance the ongoing national awareness raising campaign about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome,’ she said.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri
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