Infants, especially newborns, are more susceptible to contaminants than adult humans because of their physiological
immaturity. Synthetic or natural toxic substances, such as mycotoxins, can lead to acute intoxication episodes, as
the example of aflatoxicosis. However, the long-term effects caused by exposure to low levels of these contaminants are
of most concern to practitioners and public health authorities. Children's exposure to mycotoxins (and various other toxic
compounds) may start immediately after conception, as many contaminants cross the placenta, and continues throughout
life, entering the human body through food, water and air. Mycotoxins that offer higher risk to child health are aflatoxins
B1 (AFB1), M1 (AFM1) and ochratoxin A (OTA), commonly present in foods consumed by children, such as milk and dairy
products. Even breast milk can be a vehicle for the transfer of mycotoxins to babies, since the mycotoxins contained in
food ingested by the mother may pass into her milk, continuing childhood exposure to these compounds, initiated in utero.
This paper reviews levels reported on mycotoxins in human milk, the influence of maternal diet and the possible effects
on children's health.
Keywords: Human milk, mycotoxins, contaminants, food safety, breastfeeding, maternal and child health, diet, exposure, risk
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