Aflatoxins and Ochratoxins in Urine Samples of School Children in Mokonde, Southern Sierra Leone
Author: Jonsyn-Ellis, Felixtina E.
Source: Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, Volume 10, Number 3, 1 September 2000 , pp. 225-231(7)
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
Abstract:Purpose: The widespread contamination of foodstuff in Sierra Leone with toxigenic fungi, namely Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus ochraceus, necessitated this study to determine the frequencies and levels of aflatoxins and ochratoxins in urine samples of school children, and the relationship between these levels and the nutritional status of the children. Design: Analysis of the presence and quantity of toxins in urine samples from children at a single school. Materials and Methods: Urine specimens were collected from primary school children in Mokonde, Njala, Southern Sierra Leone during both the rainy and the dry seasons. One hundred and ninety samples were obtained in the rainy season, and 244 in the dry. The samples were analyzed by HPLC for aflatoxins and ochratoxins. Anthropometric measurements for these children were also recorded. Results: The contamination rates of urine samples with aflatoxins and/or ochratoxins were 98% and 99.5% during the rainy and dry season respectively. Dry season samples had higher levels of these toxins than rainy season samples. The nutritional status of these children had no correlation to the prevalence of mycotoxins in their urine samples. Conclusions: It is evident that children in this study area are exposed to frequent and at times high levels of mycotoxins. The role of these toxins in the general health of these children needs to be further investigated if "health for all" is to be a realistic goal. A future cohort study with these school children could determine the role of mycotoxins in the aetiology of certain childhood diseases. There is also a need to establish a cancer registry in the country to provide relevant information on the prevalence and types of cancer.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Sierra Leone, School of Pharmacy, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, P.M. Bag, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa
Publication date: 2000-09-01