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How pregnant women take bleaching pills in bid to lighten babies' skins

Emeh Joy
By Emeh Joy

Basic Medical Scientist, Freelance Health Writer, Lifestyle Blogger and Business Enthusiast

Pregnant women take bleaching pills in bid to lighten their babies skins

Have you heard of skin cancer in babies or birth defects? Maybe these pregnant women who take bleaching pills in the quest for light-skinned babies have no idea its adverse effect to the neonate's health.

Bleaching pills! Are you surprised? We seem to have gone past the use of bleaching creams to bleaching pills for a child that is yet to be born.

The world is indeed evolving as more number of people throw caution to the wind to gain almost every feature they desire - talk of bigger butts, bigger breast size, pointed nose, nicer dentition layout etc.

A woman living next-door gave birth to a cute baby boy with shiny dark skin, but this mother felt the baby would look better if he were to be light-skinned.

Thus, she resorted to bleaching the skin of the newborn. She'd buy different topical creams and mix them up to form what she feels would 'correct' the baby's skin colour.

This next-door neighbour represents many women, especially in this part of the world - Africa. It probably paints the picture that dark skin is a physical feature to be ashamed of.

The African woman and skin bleaching

An article on Radiant Health Magazine reported that not less than 75% of Nigerian women use skin bleaching creams or products.

In a study published in the West African Journal of Medicine, it showed that the use of skin bleaching creams have gained wide acceptance. It is practised by both men and women in Nigeria, particularly in Lagos State.

Black is also beautiful. People need to be educated on the harmful effects of bleaching the skin

Four hundred and fifty traders were selected for this study, and the result showed a 77.3% prevalence of use of skin bleaching creams. Females made up 72.4% of skin bleaching product users, while males made up the remaining 27.6%.

Hydroquinone-based products sell really well for women in Africa. A 2016 report by The New York Times showed that about 70% of West African women use skin bleaching or lightening creams.

Nowadays, mercury-based products and cortico-steroids are also widely used in skin bleaching.

These women are mostly hopeful that they will evade the side effects of skin bleaching which includes skin cancer, kidney failure, hyperpigmentation and even birth defects in babies while reaping the supposed good side which is 'light skin'.

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Pregnant women also use bleaching pills for their unborn babies

Now, it seems pregnant women are impatient. They don't want to wait for the baby to be out before commencing the cosmetic changes.

An article published on Blavity said, "pregnant women in Ghana are now taking skin bleaching pills for their unborn babies, and that's a problem".

Ghana's Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) had issued a warning to pregnant women who were taking skin bleaching pills during pregnancy in a bid to lighten the skin of their babies.

According to the FDA, the practice of using skin bleaching glutathione pills became a growing trend amongst pregnant women.

The FDA further asserted that the pills are illegal and can cause health complications such as skin cancer, birth defects and damage to the babies internal organs and limbs.

It is obvious that ads throughout Africa promote lighter skin; hence mothers do not want their babies to lose out on what it seems the society finds appealing.

Is there an approved skin bleaching pill for unborn babies?

The use of skin bleaching creams and products by adults to lighten the skin is greatly frowned upon by health experts, how much more the use of bleaching pills for an unborn baby?

It is notable to say that:

There is no safe or approved pill capable of lightening a baby's skin inside the womb.

The FDA in a statement released to BBC clearly stated 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 an unborn child".

What are the side effects of using bleaching pills or creams?

The side effects of using skin bleaching creams and products for adults are numerous, how much more its effect on babies?

Bleaching could go wrong. Are bleaching pills or creams good for you?

Studies in this area have shown that skin bleaching can cause skin discolouration, skin cancer, rashes and kidney damage in adults.

The use of skin bleaching creams, pills etc. acts to disrupt the synthesis and production of melanin. Melanin is the skin's natural pigment. It is the pigment that gives our skin, hair and eyes their colour.

Africans typically make more melanin than the whites, and that gives us the characteristic dark skin. Melanin production is a good thing as it helps protect us from the UV rays of the sun.

The use of bleaching pills by pregnant women is risky and poses harm to unborn babies. Instead of making the child's life better, it can hinder the child's chance of getting a better life.

If you are thinking towards taking bleaching pills for your baby, have it in mind that bleaching pills can cause skin cancer, birth defects, limb deformities and damage of the babies internal organs.

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