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Experts Warn Pregnant Women About Aflatoxins

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Experts have warned that expectant mothers who consume aflatoxins, contaminated food risk producing children with low birth weight.

Makerere University School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering dean Dr Abel Atukwase says exposure to aflatoxins could lead to reduced growth among children below five years and liver cancer, among others.

Aflatoxins are secondary metabolites produced by mold (a fungal growth that forms and spreads on various kinds of damp or decaying organic matter), especially aspergillus flavuc and aspergillus parasiticus.

Aflatoxins are mainly found in cereals including maize, sorghum, wheat and rice. Others are oil seeds (soybean, peanut, sunflower and cotton seeds among others.

Atukwase made the remarks during a dialogue on stunting organised by the Nutrition Society of Uganda at the School of Food Technology Nutrition and Bioengineering on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Sarah Ngalombi, a senior nutritionist at the health ministry, said 11% of children below five years of age in Uganda are underweight.

The latest health ministry report on the prevalence of undernutrition, which is expected to be released soon, highlights that 29% of children under five years are stunted, 53% of children 0-59 months are anaemic, while 32% of women of reproductive age (15-49 years) are also anaemic.

According to the 2022 Nutrition status report by the Office of the Prime minister, stunting is high among male children compared to female counterparts (30.8% and 20.2%, respectively).

The commissioner of strategic co-ordination and implementation at OPM, Edward Walugembe, said in order to address the issue of stunting, there must be interventions that improve the determinants of nutrition quality which relate to maternal, infant and young child feeding practices, childhood diseases, access and utilisation of maternal and child health services and early childhood development.

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