“Mothers and babies form an inseparable biological and social unit; the health and nutrition of one group cannot be divorced from the health and nutrition of the other.” – World Health Organization
The aflatoxin B1 is among the most potent genotoxic and carcinogenic mycotoxins. Aflatoxins are produced by molds that grow naturally in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains, mainly in tropical and subtropical regions such as sub-Saharan countries. Children exposed to aflatoxin can experience grave consequences, including stunting.
In regions where aflatoxin B1 is prevalent, chronic consumption of contaminated foods can provoke serious health problems, such as liver cancer risk, immune deficiency and more. Notably, it can also stunt growth in children. Several studies have reported the presence of aflatoxins in the blood of pregnant mothers as well as cord blood, meaning that children may be affected even before they are born. Newborns fed with human breastmilk can also be exposed to aflatoxins during the post-natal period. If this is followed by a first solid food that is also contaminated, a child may be exposed almost continuously from their earliest days.
As aflatoxin exposure can start early in a child’s life – and the earlier, the more potentially harmful – we aim to help prevent exposure right from the start. This project involves the design of an innovative portable food analyzer to detect aflatoxin contamination where it originates, working closely with future partners and local stakeholders. The main intended features of this hand-held device include :
In parallel to the technological development of this analyzer, we envision partnerships in education initiatives about the importance of the issue, and safer farming and storage practices to prevent contamination.
This project is in the initial needs assessment, goals and definition of concept phase.
Dr. Anna Surowska
 Jie Li and Mengxi Liu 2019
 Kiarie GM,2016 ; Y Y Gong 2002,
 Hsieh Ling-Ling et al., 1993; Kabthymer R. H., et al., 2022; Makun H. A. et al., 2016
 The Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), 2015, https://www.aflatoxinpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/PACAMarketing_2015_sep30.pdf
 The UNICEF/WHO/WB Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates (JME) group released new data for 2021
 The 2021 Global Nutrition Report: https://globalnutritionreport.org/reports/2021-global-nutrition-report/