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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Toxicology & Mycotoxin Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #344137

Research Project: Health Risks Posed by the Consumption of Cooked Foods Prepared from Naturally Contaminated Corn

Location: Toxicology & Mycotoxin Research

Title: Exposure to Aflatoxin and Fumonisin in Children at Risk for Growth Impairment in Rural Tanzania

Author
item CHEN, CHEN - Michigan State University
item MITCHELL, NICOLE - Michigan State University
item GRATZ, JEAN - University Of Virginia
item GONG, YUNYUN - University Of Leeds
item EGNER, PATRICIA - University Of Leeds
item GROOPMAN, JOHN - Johns Hopkins University
item RILEY, RON - Former ARS Employee
item Showker, Adele
item SVENSEN, ERLING - University Of Bergen
item MDUMA, ESTOMIH - Haydom Lutheran Hospital
item WU, FELICIA - Michigan State University

Submitted to: Environmental International
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Fumonisins and aflatoxins are toxic chemicals produced by molds that are commonly found in maize grown in warm/dry and warm/humid environments. High levels of aflatoxins in food have been shown to be the cause of several diseases in human populations that consume large amounts of foods prepared from maize. Fumonisins have not been shown to cause any disease in humans but are known to cause diseases in farm animals consuming maize-based feeds. Recently, both aflatoxin exposure and fumonisin exposure have been associated with growth retardation (stunting) in children in sub-Saharan Africa. Stunted growth is a major public health issue for children in the African country of Tanzania. We examined dietary exposures to aflatoxin and fumonisin and their potential roles in stunting in children less than 36 months of age in Haydom, Tanzania. Exposure was assessed using biochemical markers in blood and urine that have been shown to accurately predict dietary intake of aflatoxin and fumonisin. No associations were found between aflatoxin exposures and child growth impairment as measured by stunting, underweight, or wasting. However, fumonisin exposure was shown to be associated with underweight and wasting in this cohort of children. It was concluded that relatively low aflatoxin levels are not linked with growth impairment, while fumonisin intake may contribute to the high stunting rate among children of Haydom, Tanzania.

Technical Abstract: Background. Stunted growth is a major public health issue for children in Tanzania. We examined dietary exposures to aflatoxin and fumonisin and their potential roles in growth impairment in children under 36 months of age in Haydom, Tanzania. Methods. Plasma samples collected at 24 months of age (N=60) were analyzed for aflatoxin B1-lysine (AFB1-lys) adducts, and urine samples collected between 24-36 months of age (N=94) were analyzed for urinary fumonisin B1 (UFB1). Anthropometric, socioeconomic, nutritional, and microbial parameters were also measured for each child. Results. Seventy-two percent of children had detectable levels of AFB1-lys, with a mean level of 5.1 pg/mg albumin; and 80% had detectable levels of UFB1, with a mean of 1.3 ng/ml. This cohort in Haydom of Tanzania had a 75% stunting rate (height-for-age z-scores [HAZ] < -2) for children at 36 months. No associations were found between aflatoxin exposures and child growth impairment as measured by stunting, underweight, or wasting. However, fumonisin exposure was shown to be associated with underweight and wasting in this cohort. Conclusion. Relatively low aflatoxin levels are not linked with growth impairment, while fumonisin intake based on the UFB1 biomarker levels may contribute to the high stunting rate among children of Haydom, Tanzania.