earlyMYCO: a pilot mother-child cohort study to assess early-life exposure to mycotoxins: challenges and lessons learned

Carla Martins, Ricardo Assunção, Ana Costa, Débora Serrano, Lia Visintin, Marthe De Boevre, Carl Lachat, Arnau Vidal, Sarah De Saeger, Sónia Namorado, Cristina Vidigal, Elisabete Almeida, Paula Alvito, Carla Nunes

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Early-life exposure occurs during gestation through transfer to the fetus and later, during lactation. Recent monitoring data revealed that the Portuguese population is exposed to mycotoxins, including young children. This study aimed to develop a pilot study to assess the earlylife exposure to mycotoxins through a mother–child cohort, and to identify the associated challenges. Participants were recruited during pregnancy (1st trimester) and followed-up in three moments of observation: 2nd trimester of pregnancy (mother), and 1st and 6th month of the child’s life (mother and child), with the collection of biological samples and sociodemographic and food consumption data. The earlyMYCO pilot study enrolled 19 mother–child pairs. The analysis of biological samples from participants revealed the presence of 4 out of 15 and 5 out of 18 mycotoxins’ biomarkers of exposure in urine and breast milk samples, respectively. The main aspects identified as contributors for the successful development of the cohort were the multidisciplinary and dedicated team members in healthcare units, reduced burden of participation, and the availability of healthcare units for the implementation of the fieldwork. Challenges faced, lessons learned, and suggestions were discussed as a contribution for the development of further studies in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7716
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • birth cohorts
  • early-life exposure
  • exposome
  • mycotoxins
  • Portugal


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