BACKGROUND: Aflatoxin and fumonisin are toxic food contaminants. Knowledge about effects of their exposure and co-exposure on child growth is inadequate.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association between child growth and aflatoxin and fumonisin exposure in Tanzania.
METHODS: A total of 166 children were recruited at 6 to 14 months of age and studied at recruitment, and at the sixth and twelfth month following recruitment. Blood and urine samples were collected and analysed for plasma aflatoxin albumin adducts (AF-alb) using ELISA, and urinary fumonisin B1 (UFB1) using LC-MS, respectively. Anthropometric measurements were taken and growth index Z-scores were computed.
RESULTS: AF-alb geometric mean concentrations (95% confidence intervals) were 4.7 (3.9, 5.6), 12.9 (9.9, 16.7) and 23.5 (19.9, 27.7) pg/mg albumin at recruitment, six months, and 12 months from recruitment, respectively. At these respective sampling times, geometric mean UFB1 concentrations (95% CI) were 313.9 (257.4, 382.9), 167.3 (135.4, 206.7) and 569.5 (464.5, 698.2) pg/mL urine, and the prevalence of stunted children were 44%, 55% and 56%, respectively. UFB1 concentrations at recruitment were negatively associated with length for age Z-scores (LAZ) at six months (p = 0.016) and at 12 months from recruitment (p = 0.014). The mean UFB1 of the three sampling times (at recruitment, at six and 12 months from recruitment) in each child was negatively associated with LAZ (p < 0.001) and length velocity (p = 0.004) at 12 months from recruitment. The negative association between AF-alb and child growth did not reach statistical significance.
CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to fumonisin alone, or co-exposure with aflatoxins may contribute to child growth impairment.