Antwerp, November 10 (EINNEWS)— Twenty-five percent of children in the world are underweight and one-third suffer from growth retardation. About 5 million deaths of children under 5 years old are attributed to these conditions each year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Now an international team of scientists believes it has isolated one of the causes for low weight, and it’s not just nutritional value. Mycotoxins produced by fungi have been connected to stunting and underweight conditions.

The mycotoxin in question is fumonisin. It has been linked to children’s growth through research in Tanzania.

In the latest issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, scientists of the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp and associates at Gent University and the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority observed that children about one year old who received nutrition through corn-flour-based food were exposed to fumonisin at higher levels than suggested maximum tolerable amounts.

Fumonisin enters the food chain through fungi growing on maize, the staple food in Tanzania — and in many other parts of the world. The fungus can be present without being visible to the naked eye.

Dangerous levels of fumonisin can be controlled through correct storage handling.

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