Deoxynivalenol exposure assessment in a cohort of pregnant women from Bradford, UK.

Publication authors

Hepworth SJ, Hardie LJ, Fraser LK, Burley VJ, Mijal RS, Wild CP, Azad R, McKinney PA, Turner PC.


Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a ubiquitous contaminant of cereal crops in temperate regions of the world. It causes growth faltering and immune suppression in animals. Limited information is available on DON exposure in UK subpopulations. The objective of this study was to provide DON exposure assessment in a subset of pregnant women scheduled for an elective caesarean in a large multi-ethnic mother/infant birth cohort from Bradford, UK. Women aged 16-44 years (n = 85) provided a urine sample for DON analysis in the last trimester of pregnancy, and concurrently completed a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ). The urinary DON biomarker was detected in all measured samples (geometric mean (GM) = 10.3 ng DON mg(-1) creatinine, range = 0.5-116.7 ng mg(-1)). Levels were higher inwomen classified as South Asian in origin (GM: 15.2 ng mg(-1); 95% CI = 10.7-21.5 ng mg(-1)) compared with non-South Asians (GM = 8.6 ng mg(-1); 95% CI = 6.6-11.8 ng mg(-1)), p = 0.02). Estimated DON intake from FFQ data and typical levels of DON contamination of food suggest that this was mainly due to higher levels of exposure from bread, particularly daily intake of DON from chapattis in South Asians (estimated mean = 2.4 µg day(-1); 95% CI = 1.2, 3.7 µg day(-1)) compared with non-South Asians (estimated mean = 0.2 µg day(-1); 95% CI = 0-0.4 µg day(-1)), p < 0.001. This is the first biomarker demonstration of DON exposurein pregnant women, and several urinary DON levels were the highest ever recorded in any study. A larger survey within this birthcohort is warranted to investigate any potential risk to mothers and their babies, from DON exposure during pregnancy.