Mycotoxins are known to cause growth stunting through a few different ways:
- reducing appetite
- causing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- toxic effects on the body and organs
There are four main mycotoxins that are linked to growth stunting in children:
- deoxynivalenol (DON or vomitoxin)
1. Aflatoxins are made from Aspergillus species which are usually found in grain or peanuts that were stored incorrectly. Studies have found greater alfatoxin exposure is associated with high rates of growth retardation.
2. Fumonisins are produced by Fusarium species and grow in domestic animals. Infants in the developing world tend to consume fumonisins in abundance. One study linked higher fumonsin exposure with slower growth rates in children.
3. Deoxynivalenol, DON, is a trichothecene mycotoxin produced from the Fusarium species. Ingestion can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. DON can pass to the placenta and reduce growth of unborn children.
4. Zearalenone is also produced by Fusarium fungi that grows on foods. It can affect growth of animals. There is currently a lack of research on the effects of zearalenone on human growth.