Scientists from the Victor Chang Institute in Sydney investigated why some women have multiple miscarriages and why some babies are born with heart, kidney and spinal defects
Simply taking vitamin B3 supplements can significantly prevent miscarriages and birth defects, a landmark Australian study has found, reports ABC news.
They found a major cause was a deficiency of a vital molecule known as NAD, which is important for normal development of organs.
Lead researcher Professor Sally Dunwoodie said it was the first time NAD been associated with miscarriages and birth defects.
“We have discovered a whole new cause of birth defects and a way to treat it as well,” she said.
“Arguably, it’s the most important discovery for pregnant women since folate.
“The promise is that this could significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and babies born with defects.”
NAD is usually formed in the body as part of a healthy diet that includes eggs, cheese, salmon, turkey, nuts and seeds. But you can also get it by taking supplements of vitamin B3.
The head of the Victor Chang Institute, Professor Bob Graham, said the discovery could potentially help millions of women around the world.
“What’s exciting for me is that we may be able to help people who have children who have developmental defects or who have had miscarriages,” he said.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the team proved birth defects and miscarriages could be overcome by taking vitamin B3.
“We gave pregnant mice with the NAD gene knocked out a regular dose of vitamin B3 and we found it prevented miscarriages and birth defects, over-riding the genetic block,” Professor Dunwoodie said.
Professor Dunwoodie said women who have problems absorbing nutrients, including those with diabetes, a high body-mass index or inflammatory bowel disease, may need a larger amount.
She said researchers would now start working on a test to measure a woman’s NAD levels.
“The goal is to have a quick and easy test that could be done at the same time as a pregnancy test, either in urine or blood,” she said.
The breakthrough was made possible by a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council and philanthropic donations to the Victor Chang Institute, including the Chain Reaction Foundation, Key Foundation and the NSW Office of Health and Medical Research.
MoM adds: I am that person!
Can I say this is some fantastic ground breaking research for us Heartkid families! (and many other families who struggle)
I can’t help but sit here sobbing to myself thinking “so it WAS my fault! I could have done something to prevent my child’s heart defect.” That feeling never goes away.
Even thought we are frequently told that it was nothing we did, just one of these things, you couldn’t have helped it etc.
I am that woman with a high body-mass index and an inflammatory bowel disease as mentioned above, how could it NOT have been my fault then? One simple little tablet a day could be all it takes.
I am so happy that other families might now have an answer to help prevent further heartbreak.
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