Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

An exploratory analysis of the relationship between aflatoxins and growth impairment in children from Zambia

Goeke, Leah (2017) An exploratory analysis of the relationship between aflatoxins and growth impairment in children from Zambia. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

[img] Microsoft Word
Submitted Version

Download (2MB)


Background: Aflatoxins are carcinogenic and immunosuppressing compounds that contaminate food staples such as maize and groundnuts in tropical and subtropical climates around the world. The risk of chronic aflatoxin exposure is particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa, where rural populations of subsistence farmers frequently experience food insecurity which may force families to consume damaged crops and subsequent unregulated amounts of aflatoxins. Although a causal mechanism has yet to be established, aflatoxin exposure has also been linked as an underlying factor of malnutrition and growth impairment in children under 5 years of age. The aim of this analysis was to explore the potential relationship between aflatoxin concentration and malnutrition outcomes of stunting, underweight, and wasting in children from Zambia.
Methods: The data in this analysis came from two sources: the Child Recode dataset from the 2013-14 Zambia Demographic Health Survey and the data of aflatoxin concentrations in maize samples from Dr. Paul Kachapulula. The analysis consisted of boxplots, scatterplots, and a Spearman correlation analysis with and without outliers to evaluate the relationship between aflatoxins and growth inhibition in Zambian children under 5 years of age.
Results: The two districts with the highest concentrations of aflatoxins were Mazabuka (107.6 µg kg-1, Southern province) and Sesheke (41.24 µg kg-1, Western province) and were identified as outliers. The Spearman correlation analysis with a sample size of 19 districts found a significant negative association (r = -0.483, p=0.036) between aflatoxin concentration and wasting, represented by weight-for-height z-scores, but not stunting and underweight. After excluding the outliers, no significant relationships were observed (wasting r = -0.315, p = 0.218).
Conclusions: Aflatoxin contamination is a widespread public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa and, possibly including Zambia. Future studies with a cohort of Zambian children are needed to accurately measure biological aflatoxin exposure and the potential negative impact on nutrition and development.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Goeke, Leahleg49@pitt.eduleg49
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGlynn, Nancyglynnn@pitt.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberVan Panhuis, Willemwilbert.van.panhuis@pitt.eduwav10UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberBarchowsky, Aaronaab20@pitt.eduaab20UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberKensler, Thomastkensler@pitt.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date: 14 December 2017
Date Type: Completion
Number of Pages: 48
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2018 21:20
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2018 21:20


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item