Abstract

Aflatoxins are common contaminants of staple foods in sub-Saharan Africa. These toxins are human hepatocarcinogens, especially in combination with chronic infection with hepatitis B virus. Exposure to aflatoxins begins early in life and recent studies in West Africa demonstrated an association between exposure and slowed growth, particularly stunting, in young children. The underlying mechanisms for these latter effects are unknown but may include impairment of immunity, altered intestinal integrity and increased susceptibility to infections. Simple post-harvest intervention strategies were successful in reducing aflatox-in exposure in a subsistence farm setting, providing a rationale for prevention of aflatoxin-related disease(s).

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