This study assessed deoxynivalenol (DON) exposure in children from three geographic locations within Tanzania, over three time points in 1 year, using a urinary biomarker of exposure.Methods and results:
A total of 166 children aged 6–14 months were studied at a maize harvest and followed up twice at 6-month intervals. On two consecutive days, morning urine was collected from each child and urinary DON was measured using an LC-MS method, with and without β-glucuronidase hydrolysis in order to assess free DON (fDON) and glucuronide DON. Overall, urinary DON increased significantly along with the three visits (geometric mean 1.1, 2.3, and 5.7 ng/mL, at visits 1, 2, and 3, respectively, p < 0.01). fDON was 22% of urinary total DON. Urinary DON excretion rate was 74% in village Kikelelwa based on food DON level and food consumption. Assuming 360 mL of urine excreted per day, 10, 19, and 29% of children at visits 1, 2, and 3, respectively, exceeded the provisional maximum tolerable daily intake of 1000 ng/kg b.w./day.Conclusion:
Young children in Tanzania are chronically exposed to DON due to eating contaminated maize, although exposure levels varied markedly by region and season.