Mycotoxin exposure from food occurs globally but is more common in hot humid environments, especially in low-income settings, and might affect pregnancy outcomes. This study aimed to synthesize the evidence from epidemiological studies on the relationship between maternal or fetal exposure to different mycotoxins and the occurrence of adverse pregnancy outcomes. Multiple databases were systematically searched up to December 2018 to identify studies that assessed the association between mycotoxin exposure in pregnant women or fetuses and at least one pregnancy outcome. Studies were appraised and results were synthesized using standard methods for conducting systematic reviews. This review identified and included 17 relevant studies. There is some evidence to suggest that exposure to various Aspergillus mycotoxins (e.g., aflatoxin) during pregnancy may impair intrauterine fetal growth and promote neonatal jaundice. Findings were inconclusive concerning the influence of aflatoxin exposure on perinatal death and preterm birth. Only two studies assessed effects of maternal exposure to Fusarium mycotoxins (e.g., fumonisin) on adverse pregnancy outcomes. These studies found that maternal fumonisin exposure may be associated with hypertensive emergencies in pregnancy and with neural tube defects. Studies using grain farming and weather conditions as a proxy measure for mycotoxin exposure found that such exposure was associated with an increased risk of preterm birth and late-term miscarriage. In conclusion, there is already some evidence to suggest that exposure to mycotoxins during pregnancy may have detrimental effects on pregnancy outcomes. However, given the limited number of studies, especially on effects of Fusarium mycotoxins, more studies are needed for a more comprehensive understanding of the effects of different mycotoxins on maternal and fetal health and to guide public health policies and interventions.
- pregnant women
- adverse pregnancy outcome