Pathologist, Professor Paul Opoku Sampene Ossei, has been sounding the alarm on the devastating effects of illegal mining on unborn babies and pregnant women in mining communities across the country.
According to him, the exposure of expecting mothers to harmful toxins in the air, in water bodies and through the ingestion of foodstuff cultivated on contaminated lands has led to a rise in birth defects, stillbirths and maternal mortality in affected areas.
The pathologist who has been conducting a case study in affected areas said cognitive impairments are the least of worries in comparison to some mothers carrying dead fetuses to full term.
“Not only are these children born with cognitive impairments, some of them are born what we call stillbirth, where they die in their mothers’ uteruses or their mother’s uterus. And then some of them will also have to go through what we call spontaneous abortion.
“And then if they’re lucky and they come unto this earth, some of them will have all manner of congenital anomalies such as those that I’ve shown… children with different limbs, limbs about four limbs, some of them having to have eyes that are situated in a funny area around the forehead.
“Some of them will have what we call polydactyl which means that their limbs will have – in fact when we talk about the digitals, the fingers will have maybe six here, six there, another six on the limbs making it 12:12 making it 24 digitals. And then some of them were born, not born, let me say, were delivered without genitals,” he said.
He said the cognitive impairments of the fetuses also leads to many half formed babies being born in the affected areas.
He explained that the cognitive impairment being suffered by the foestus means that some of them are out of synch with their mothers’ labour time and thus are either born without some body parts or in some cases born with extra body parts.
“Some of these things, what happens is that these children because of their development, they cannot synchronise with the mother’s time of labour so they will have different times because of their cognitive impairments they don’t synchronise with their mother’s way of delivery so they cannot be born naturally what we call spontaneous vaginal delivery.
“So most of the mothers, most of them are from the remotest parts of where these galamsey work is being done. So by the time they’re brought to the hospital, they’re already dead. So basically, when they die like this, their mothers are dead, it behoves on the hospital and the family members to make sure that these babies are retrieved from their mother’s uterus.”
He said should government fail to address the issue, these anomalies will become commonplace in those areas in the near future.