Characterisation of aflatoxin and deoxynivalenol exposure among pregnant Egyptian women

Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2012;29(6):962-71. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2012.658442. Epub 2012 Mar 1.


Mycotoxins such as the aflatoxins and deoxynivalenol (DON) are frequent contaminants of food. Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and DON affect the immune system and restrict growth; additionally AFB1 is carcinogenic. To date there are limited descriptive biomarker data concerning maternal exposures during pregnancy, and none on co-exposures to these mycotoxins. This survey was a cross-sectional assessment providing descriptive data on the concentrations of serum aflatoxin-albumin (AF-alb), urinary aflatoxin M1 (AFM1), and urinary DON for 98 pregnant women from Egypt, in relation to diet and socioeconomic status, during the third trimester. AF-alb was detected in 34 of 98 (35%) samples, geometric mean (GM) of positives = 4.9 pg AF-lys mg(-1) albumin (95% confidence interval (CI) = 4.1-5.8 pg mg(-1)), and AFM1 in 44 of 93 (48%) samples, GM of positives = 19.7 pg mg(-1) creatinine (95%CI = 14.8-26.3 pg mg(-1)). AF-alb and AFM1 levels were positively correlated (R = 0.276, p = 0.007). DON was detected in 63 of 93 (68%), GM of positives = 2.8 ng mg(-1) (95%CI = 2.1-3.6 ng mg(-1)). Aflatoxin and DON biomarkers were observed in 41% of the subjects concurrently. The frequency and level of these biomarkers in Egyptian women were modest compared with known high-risk countries. However, this study represents the first biomarker survey to report on the occurrence of DON biomarkers in an African population, in addition to the co-occurrence of these two potent mycotoxins. This combined exposure may be of particular concern during pregnancy given the potential of toxin transfer to the foetus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aflatoxin B1 / urine*
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Egypt
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Pregnancy
  • Trichothecenes / urine*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Trichothecenes
  • Aflatoxin B1
  • deoxynivalenol