Fungi are one of the groups of microorganisms that play beneficial and harmful effect worldwide. One of the harmful effect of fungi is disease causation such as skin infection like ringworm, mycetoma etc. It also causes systemic infection such as lung infection like blastomycosis, candidiasis and others.
Fungi are well known in association with foods such as grains like maize, groundnut among others. Sometimes it secret toxins called mycotoxins which can cause cancer and cellular mutation for a prolong consumption, one of the important known toxin is Aflatoxin.
Mothers are exposed to this toxin that can reach their infants through breast milk. Aflatoxins are produced by the fungus, Aspergillus. Aspergillus colonizes grains, especially in tropical regions where there is high temperature and humidity like Nigeria. One of these aflatoxins is aflatoxin B1 that is excreted in breast milk as aflatoxin M1 (AFM1).
Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by special fungal strains. They are one of the most potent toxic substances produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus.
There are many researches conducted on the incidence of aflatoxin M1 in breast milk of lactating mothers in Nigeria, among which includes the following:
Oluwafemmi, 2012 concluded that out of 120 breast sample analysed of women from Ibadan and Abeokuta Nigeria, AFM1 occur in 17 (14.2%) of the study participants. In this study, 14.2% of mothers were positive for AFM1 in breast milk although some values were on the high side. Three mothers had AFM1 values above the stipulated EU level of 50 ng/ml in baby food. In this study, the mean aflatoxin in milk was 44 ng/ml for AFM1.
Oloyede et al., 2013 Ogun state Nigeria concluded that Although AFM1 was found in breast milk of lactating mothers in Ogun State in low amounts, there was a signiﬁcant positive correlation between AFM1 contamination of the breast milk and the mothers’ dietary exposure to AFB1. The socioeconomic status of the lactating mothers also signiﬁcantly inﬂuenced their dietary exposure and exposure risk of the suckling to AFM1. Thus there is need to continue to monitor the level of contamination of the lactating mothers in order to ensure infant protection.
According to Makun Hussaini Anthony et al., ( 2016), in Minna Nigeria the level of AFM1 detected in the breast milk of 40 breastfeeding mothers. The results show a high incidence of AFM1 contamination in human breast milk (77.5% (31/40)). In addition, 15 out of the 40 samples (37.5%) had levels above the Nigerian and European Union regulated limit of 0.05 µg/L
Alegbe et al., 2017 Yobe state Nigeria reported the occurrence of AFM1 in 100 lactating mothers and their infants. Higher occurrence of 93.3% of AFM1 was recorded in urine samples of lactating mothers when compared with 82% in their breast milk. There was no statistically significant association in AFM1 occurrence between breast milk and urine samples. This implies that AFM1 has the potential to be a public health problem in Nigeria.
The following are pictures of Aspergillus spp, Chemical Structure of Aflatoxin M1 and some Grains contaminated by
fungi that produce Aflatoxin M1.
Fig. 1. Aspergillus spp
Fig. 2. Chemical Structure of Aflatoxin
Some Grains contaminated by Fungi that produce Aflatoxin
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