Exposure risk assessment to aflatoxins through the consumption of peanut among children aged 6-59 months in Lusaka district.

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Musawa, Grace
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The University of Zambia
Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi found on agricultural crops such as maize (corn), peanuts (groundnuts), cottonseed, and tree nuts. Based on the Codex Alimentarius framework for food control systems, this study assessed under five years old children’s exposure risk to aflatoxins (AFs) through the consumption of peanuts in the Lusaka District. The objectives were threefold: to determine the consumption patterns of peanuts by under-five children in Lusaka; to estimate the likelihood of exposure to AFs through the consumption of peanuts in the study population; and assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the parents and guardians in the study population related to factors that might explain the development of aflatoxins in peanuts. The study was driven by the limited literature and knowledge on exposure risk estimation in under-five children, especially in Zambia, despite having several reports and studies on the high aflatoxin content in peanuts. The study was a cross-sectional study that depended on secondary and primary data sources to achieve the objectives. Firstly, a desk review of scientific literature and government reports was conducted as a secondary data source. Secondly, a survey questionnaire was administered to collect primary data on the subject matter to close the data gaps. The questionnaire was administered to 795 respondents - mainly female parents and guardians for enrolled under-five in each of the health centres selected in Lusaka based on stratification to achieve a sample representative of the low, middle and high socio-economic status respondents. The respondents from each health centre comprised a 10 per cent sample from the total number of the under-five children enrolled at the respective health centre. Questionnaire interviews were then administered tofemale parents or guardians of the selected children. The data were processed and analysed using IBM SPSS version 20. Theexposure risk were estimated by the carcinogenic risk of aflatoxins, margin of exposure and chronic dietary intake of aflatoxins. This study indicated increased exposure risk to aflatoxin in children under-five, which could result in health risks. This could be due to the presence of AFB1 AFB2, AFG1 AFG2 and AFs in peanuts sold in markets used to prepare meals for children. The overall exposure was highest in children who consumed a high level of aflatoxin contamination in peanuts and high-frequency consumption level. The study also established a possible double risk in exposure because most children have their peanuts mixed with maize meal which is also a susceptible crop to aflatoxin. Furthermore, there was poor knowledge of the presence of aflatoxin in peanuts among respondents, how aflatoxin gets in peanuts, and its health effects. The high levels of AFs in peanuts and high exposures accentuate the need for preventive measures. Particular attention should be given to raising awareness on the impact of aflatoxin risk exposure.
Aflatoxin risk exposure. , Foodborne diseases. , Food--Safety measures. , Food contamination. , Aflatoxins.