Senior Medical Officer of the Holy Child Catholic Hospital in Fijai, Dr. Sylvester Fameye says exposure to high levels of Mercury could cause birth defects in babies.
He said mercury could damage parts of the body, including the lungs, kidneys and nervous system; the brain, spinal cord and nerves…” babies exposed to mercury in the womb can have brain damage, hearing and vision problems.”
Dr. Fameyeh told the media that one could be exposed to mercury through the air we breathe, eating and drinking food and water contaminated with it as in the case of galamsey activities.
Highlighting on the realities of such occurrences, Dr. Fameye said birth defect was a problem that occurred when a baby is developing in a uterus, which could be minor or severe and may affect appearance, organ function, physical and mental development.
This usually happened in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Dr. Fameyeh indicated that birth defect could also be as a result of genetics, lifestyle choices and behaviours, exposure to certain medications and chemicals, infections during pregnancy or a combination of these factors, however, the exact causes of certain birth defects were often unknown.
Mercury, he said due to illegal Mining was contributing to such defects in new borns.
He explained that while some birth defects were harmless, others required long-term medical treatment and added that severe birth defects were one of the leading causes of infant death in the country.
Dr Fameyeh indicated that mercury appeared in several forms such as colourless, odourless, poisonous vapour in the air and through industrial processes, like burning waste or burning coal in power plants.
A midwife at Sewum Health Centre in the Western North Region, Madam Gifty Adwoa Adjanor in an interview said heavy chemicals used in illegal mining locally known as “galamsey” in parts of the country were contaminating water bodies and causing babies to be born with major facial defects.
She disclosed that the Health Centre had for some time now been recording cases of newborn babies without nose, eyes, ears and mouth defects, adding that, the activities of illegal miners pollute rivers that served as the main sources of drinking water.
Ms. Adjanor, appealed to traditional leaders and other residents in the area to support the renewed fight against galamsey to enable pregnant women to give birth to healthy children.