Breakthrough study: Vitamin B3 may prevent miscarriages and birth defects

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Taking Vitamin B3 could prevent miscarriages and birth defects, a study on mice suggests.

The study found that a deficiency in the molecule nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, known as NAD, prevents a baby's organs from developing correctly in the womb.

"The promise is that this could significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and babies born with defects", Dunwoodie said.

Professor Dunwoodie said: 'Now, after 12 years of research, our team has also discovered that this deficiency can be cured and miscarriages and birth defects prevented by taking a common vitamin.

Lead researcher Professor Sally Dunwoodie said it was the first time NAD been associated with miscarriages and birth defects.

Considering one in four pregnancies in Australia end in miscarriage annually, this breakthrough could irrevocably change the lives of the 103,000 impacted by this traumatic experience each year. This study could potentially completely change how pregnant women are cared for, the scientists involved in the research have said. And even though vitamin B3 isn't officially considered a prenatal vitamin yet, it's still pretty easy to come by.

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The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that by boosting levels of vitamin B3 in mice, this increased production of NAD. "It's actually a double breakthrough".

Professor Claire Roberts at the Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide, says the researchers identified genetic causes of a rare constellation of malformations at birth called VACTERL. However, you might want to start appreciating the dark spread a little more if you're pregnant, as it could hold a whole range of benefits for your baby. "And the prevention is so simple, it's a vitamin", she said. As Dr. Katie Morris, an expert in maternal fetal medicine at the University of Birmingham, told the BBC, "While exciting, this discovery can not be translated into recommendations for pregnant women, who at most may be deficient in vitamin B3".

Vitamin B3 can be found in meats and green vegetables, while a single serving of Marmite (or Vegemite, its Australian counterpart) contains 36 percent of your recommended daily allowance.

But this doesn't mean our hearts go out to those who have lost their children to miscarriage or birth defect in the past...

The next step, according to the report, will be to develop a diagnostic test to measure NAD levels.

When they removed vitamin B3 from their diet, numerous mice died before birth, and the ones that survived had serious birth defects, Science Mag reports.

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