PESAR: Prenatal Exposure to Mycotoxins: Exploring the Association with Low Birthweight / Height in Guatemala

Guatemala cooperativemycotoxins on corn


Guatemala has the highest level of malnutrition in Latin America (Banco Mundial, 2017). In 2014, almost 1 in 2 children experienced chronic malnutrition. Although actions are being taken to reduce malnutrition, the percentage of Guatemalan children with chronic malnutrition only lowered two percent, from 49 to 47 percent between 2008 and 2014 (Lucrecia, Edgar, & Adrian, 2017). This marginal decrease in malnutrition – despite large efforts to improve public health – demonstrates that other factors could be affecting the malnutrition status of children. Mycotoxins, which are toxins produced from fungi on crops such as corn, have been associated with malnutrition in other countries (Y. Y. Gong et al., 2002; Shuaib et al., 2010), but have not been thoroughly studied in Guatemala.

PESAR will conduct a case-control study to explore the association of exposure to mycotoxins during pregnancy and low birth weight.

PESAR’s overarching goal is to inform risk-based decision-making around how to allocate limited resources in order to control mycotoxin contamination in the food supply chain by improving the understanding of the role of mycotoxins in adverse birth outcomes in Guatemala.

OSU Project Team: Barbara Kowalcyk (co-PI), Ariel Garsow

Collaborators: Olga Torres (co-PI) and Jorge Matute (CIENSA), Kinnon Scott (World Bank)

Funding: This project is supported by the Governtment of Guatemala through Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, the World Bank, Labritorio Diagnóstico Molecular, an Ohio State Connect and Collaborate grant, and OSU’s Department of Food Science and Technology