|Deoxynivalenol (also known as DON or vomitoxin) is a trichothecene mycotoxin produced by Fusarium molds. Deoxynivalenol is often found in grains and other food stuffs stored under wet conditions.|
Deoxynivalenol can cause nausea, vomiting, and headaches and is toxic to the immune system. Deoxynivalenol can also pass the placenta in humans and animals and is associated with higher rates of birth defects in animals. Therefore, exposure to deoxynivalenol is of special concern during pregnancy.
A Croatian study measured the levels of deoxynivalenol metabolites in the urine of 40 healthy, non-smoking pregnant women. Detectable deoxynivalenol levels were found in all but one of the 40 women (97.5%). Deoxynivalenol levels exceeded the provisional maximum intake level of 1 µg/ kg bodyweight/ day in 19 of 40 of the women (47.5%). One woman had an estimated deoxynivalenol intake of more than 30 times the recommended limit. This woman consumed large amounts of cereals stored under damp conditions.
Detectable levels of ochratoxin (a mycotoxin produced by many Aspergillus and Penicillium fungi) were found in the urine 10% of these pregnant women.