Our Work

The Nutrition Innovation Lab has been supporting the Government of Timor Leste and its development partners to assess the extent of aflatoxin exposure among its women and children. The country’s 2013 nationally-representative food and nutrition survey offered an unparalleled opportunity to see if aflatoxin levels in women and children correlate with their nutritional status, controlling for a range of other individual and household characteristics. The main survey included a sample of over 9,000 children (aged 5 and under), and roughly 8,500 non-pregnant women. In addition to the usual height and weight measures taken to assess nutritional status, blood samples were drawn from a sub-sample of approximately 1,300 mother-child pairs for analysis of micronutrient deficiencies (iron and Vitamin A).  Those same blood samples were analyzed by Tufts and its partners at the University of Georgia for the presence of aflatoxin. The results were reported by the Ministry of Health in October 2015. More than 80% of the samples showed aflatoxin levels above minimum acceptable levels. The Nutrition Innovation Lab has been helping identify policy and program entry points for dealing with this food-system wide problem, including improving on-field and post-harvest management of mold-sensitive crops, enhanced testing and regulation, and building greater awareness among key national stakeholders.