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Vitamin deficiency linked to miscarriage in breakthrough discovery

Vitamin B3 deficiency linked to miscarriageAustralian scientists have discovered a link between miscarriage and birth defects and a common dietary supplement – in what is being hailed as one of the most significant discoveries in pregnancy research.

The findings could change the way pregnant women are cared for and it could have a significant impact on the number of miscarriages and babies born with birth defects across the globe.

This breakthrough reseach, led by Professor Sally Dunwoodie from the Victor Chang Institute, has identified a major cause of miscarriages as well as heart, spinal, kidney and cleft palate problems in newborn babies.

It has found that a deficiency in a vital molecule, known as NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), prevents a baby’s organs from developing correctly in the womb.

And the best part is that there is a simple cure for this deficiency – Vitamin B3, which is also known as Niacin.

Vitamin B3 is required to produce NAD and it is found in meat, green vegetables and even Vegemite!

“The ramifications are likely to be huge. This has the potential to significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects around the world, and I do not use those words lightly,” says Professor Dunwoodie.

Researchers found that a third of pregnant women were deficient in vitamin B3, despite taking vitamin supplements. This number rose to about 60 per cent by the third trimester. This indicates that pregnant woman require higher levels of Vitamin B3 than what is found in pregnancy vitamin supplements.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute executive director Professor Robert Graham says the implications are profound.

It is being compared to the research that found that folate could prevent spina bifida and neural tube defects. Since that research folate has been consumed by women across the world and the rate of neural tube defects has dropped by 70 per cent.

“Just like we now use folate to prevent spina bifida, Professor Dunwoodie’s research suggests that it is probably best for women to start taking vitamin B3 very early on, even before they become pregnant. This will change the way pregnant women are cared for around the world,” said Professor Graham.

“We believe that this breakthrough will be one of our country’s greatest medical discoveries. It’s extremely rare to discover the problem and provide a preventive solution at the same time. It’s actually a double breakthrough,” said Professor Graham.

The findings have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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