Exposure to aflatoxin and fumonisin in children at risk for growth impairment in rural Tanzania

Chen Chen, Nicole J. Mitchell, Jean Gratz, Eric R. Houpt, Yunyun Gong, Patricia A. Egner, John D. Groopman, Ronald T. Riley, Jency L. Showker, Erling Svensen, Estomih R. Mduma, Crystal L. Patil, Felicia Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Growth impairment is a major public health issue for children in Tanzania. The question remains as to whether dietary mycotoxins play a role in compromising children's growth. We examined children's exposures to dietary aflatoxin and fumonisin and potential impacts on growth in 114 children under 36 months of age in Haydom, Tanzania. Plasma samples collected from the children at 24 months of age (N = 60) were analyzed for aflatoxin B1-lysine (AFB1-lys) adducts, and urine samples collected between 24 and 36 months of age (N = 94) were analyzed for urinary fumonisin B1 (UFB1). Anthropometric, socioeconomic, and nutritional parameters were measured and growth parameter z-scores were calculated for each child. Seventy-two percent of the children had detectable levels of AFB1-lys, with a mean level of 5.1 (95% CI: 3.5, 6.6) pg/mg albumin; and 80% had detectable levels of UFB1, with a mean of 1.3 (95% CI: 0.8, 1.8) ng/ml. This cohort 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 growth impairment as measured by stunting, underweight [weight-for-age z-scores (WAZ) < −2], or wasting [weight-for-height z-scores (WHZ) < −2]. However, fumonisin exposure was negatively associated with underweight (with non-detectable samples included, p = 0.0285; non-detectable samples excluded, p = 0.005) in this cohort of children. Relatively low aflatoxin exposure at 24 months was not linked with growth impairment, while fumonisin exposure at 24–36 months based on the UFB1 biomarkers may contribute to the high growth impairment rate among children of Haydom, Tanzania; which may be associated with their breast feeding and weaning practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironment international
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Aflatoxin
  • Biomarkers
  • Child growth
  • Dietary exposure
  • Fumonisin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Exposure to aflatoxin and fumonisin in children at risk for growth impairment in rural Tanzania'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this