In Morogoro Rural District - Tanzania, the majority of the mothers/caregivers use cereal-based complementary foods that are prone to aflatoxin contamination. This study aimed at evaluating aflatoxin exposure in children 6-24 months and its effect on child growth in Morogoro Rural District. The study covered 138 mothers/caregivers having children 6-24 months. A questionnaire was used to collect information from mothers/givers on household characteristics, feeding practices, and food consumption. The samples of cereal-based complementary foods (flours) that the children were feeding on at the time of the survey were collected from each of the households interviewed. The nutritional status of children was assessed by measuring weight and height. The flour samples were analyzed for aflatoxins using an AflaTest Fluorometer. Results for aflatoxin contamination in the complementary foods were used to estimate aflatoxin exposure among the target children. Results showed that 34, 8.7 and 4.3% of children assessed were stunted, underweight and wasted respectively. Male children were more underweight (p = 0.049) than female children. About 67.4% of mothers started breastfeeding within one hour after birth while 43.5% of the mothers introduced complementary feeding at 6 months. Only 2.9% of children had minimum acceptable diet while 34.8% had minimum dietary diversity. Child feeding practices did not differ among the two divisions. Most mothers (88%) stored cereal flour for more than two weeks and less than half of mothers processed the cereals by sorting, winnowing and drying before and after milling. Majority of the children (73.2%) consumed porridge from flour with detectable aflatoxin levels (3.40 -78 ppb) above tolerable limit of 10 ppb. The average exposure to aflatoxins among children aged 6-24 months was 67.97 ng/ kg body weight (bw)/day. More than half of the children (67.4%) had aflatoxin exposure level of 8.79 – 549.2 ng/kg bw/day which exceeded the limit of concern (0.017 ng/kg bw/day). Dietary aflatoxin exposure through consumption of complementary foods was found to be significantly associated with stunting (p = 0.042). The reported relationship between aflatoxin exposure and stunting indicated the need to undertake long-term studies to further understand the effect of aflatoxin exposure on nutrition status of children. There is also need to design interventions to control fungal growth and aflatoxin contamination in cereal based complementary foods used in rural areas of Morogoro rural district, Tanzania.
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RUFORUM Theses and Dissertations
Abel Atukwase; Henry Laswai