Exposure of neonates to ochratoxin A: first biomonitoring results in human milk (colostrum) from Chile
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The mycotoxin ochratoxin A (OTA) and its metabolite ochratoxin alpha (OTα) were determined in milk and blood from nine lactating women who provided samples soon after delivery at a hospital in southern Chile. The analytical method applied liquid–liquid extraction with chloroform, and in the case of blood, an extra purification with solid phase extraction prior to HPLC analysis with fluorescence detection. OTA was detected in all human milk samples, with an average concentration of 106 ± 45 ng/L (range 44–184 ng/L). Levels of OTα were 40 ± 30 ng/L (LOQ 40 ng/L), but increased considerably upon enzymatic hydrolysis with ß-glucuronidase/sulfatase (up to 840 ± 256 ng/L) in human milk. By contrast, there was no evidence for conjugates of OTA. The data on OTA in breast milk and levels reported in blood from women in Chile are indicative of an efficient lactational transfer of the mycotoxin. Infant exposure to OTA was estimated by considering their daily OTA intake with human milk at early stages of nursing. For the majority of milk samples, the calculated OTA intake of infants exceeded the tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 5 ng/kg body weight (bw)/day proposed by the Nordic Expert Group, and infant exposure approached the provisional tolerable doses of 14–16 ng/kg bw/day suggested by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JEFCA) and by EFSA for adults. The present study documents and confirms the presence of OTA in human milk at levels where the TDI can be exceeded. These results point out the need to continue food and biological monitoring and to develop strategies, e.g. dietary recommendations to pregnant and lactating women, aimed to reduce OTA exposure in early periods of life.