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Stunted Growth In Tanzanian Infants Linked To Ingestion Of Maize Fungus Toxins

November 15, 2010: 04:06 PM EST

Belgian researchers have discovered a link between retarded growth in Tanzanian infants and consumption of the toxin fumonisin produced by maize fungus. Stunted growth and low weight are a major cause of infant deaths in the country. For the study, researchers selected 215 infants. They then calculated the level of intake of fumonisin based on measurements of amounts of consumed maize-derived porridge. In 26 of the infants fumonisin levels exceeded recommended maximum daily levels. At 12 months of age, infants who were exposed to fumonisins intakes above the maximum tolerable daily intake were significantly shorter by 1.3 cm and 328 g lighter. “It appears,” the researchers concluded, “that the exposure to fumonisins is associated with growth retardation.” The researchers called for infant foods to be screened for mycotoxins such as fumonisin.

Martin E. Kimanya, et al. , "Fumonisin exposure through maize in complementary foods is inversely associated with linear growth of infants in Tanzania", Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, November 15, 2010, © John Wiley & Sons
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