Mycotoxins And Growth Stunting In Childhood

A number of mycotoxins from mold (fungi) can cause growth stunting in children. Mycotoxin related growth stunting is especially common in developing nations with poor food storage.         

Martani Lombard Mycotoxin Exposure and Infant and Young Child Grow in Africa: What Do We Know? Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 2014;64:42-52.

Mycotoxins can cause growth stunting by several mechanisms including: 1) reducing appetite, 2) causing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, and 3) toxic effects on the body and its organs. The 4 main mycotoxins which are linked to growth stunting in children are 1) aflatoxins, 2) fumonisin, 3) deoxynivalenol (DON or vomitoxin), and 4) zearalenone. These 4 mycotoxins are summarized briefly below.

1) Aflatoxins are produced by some Aspergillus species and are particularly common in improperly stored grains or peanuts. Several studies have reported that higher aflatoxin exposures (in utero, in breast milk, and in foods) are associated with significantly higher rates of growth retardation.
2) Fumonisins are produced by Fusarium species and have been shown to cause growth retardation in domestic animals. Many infants in the developing world consume considerable amounts of fumonisins. One human study linked higher fumonsin dietary exposure with significantly slower growth rates in children.
3) Deoxynivalenol (DON or vomitoxin). DON is a trichothecene mycotoxin produced by some Fusarium species. Can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. DON is able to cross placenta and reduce growth of unborn children.
4) Zearalenone- Produced by some Fusarium fungi growing on foodstuffs. Can retard growth in animals. More research is needed to examine effects of zearalenone on human growth.



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