SCOPE: Aflatoxin exposure coincides with micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries. Animal feeding studies have postulated that aflatoxin exposure may be exacerbating micronutrient deficiencies. Evidence available in human subjects is limited and inconsistent. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between aflatoxin exposure and micronutrient status among young Guinean children.
METHOD AND RESULTS: A total of 305 children (28.8 ± 8.4 months) were recruited at groundnut harvest (rainy season), of which 288 were followed up 6 months later post-harvest (dry season). Blood samples were collected at each visit. Aflatoxin-albumin adduct levels were measured by ELISA. Vitamin A, vitamin E and β-carotene concentrations were measured using HPLC methods. Zinc was measured by atomic absorption spectroscopy. Aflatoxin exposure and micronutrient deficiencies were prevalent in this population and were influenced by season, with levels increasing between harvest and post-harvest. At harvest, children in the highest aflatoxin exposure group, compared to the lowest, were 1.98 (95%CI: 1.00, 3.92) and 3.56 (95%CI: 1.13, 11.15) times more likely to be zinc and vitamin A deficient.
CONCLUSION: Although children with high aflatoxin exposure levels were more likely to be zinc and vitamin A deficient, further research is necessary to determine a cause and effect relationship.