Published: Thu, August 10, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Vitamin B3 can prevent miscarriages and birth defects

Vitamin B3 can prevent miscarriages and birth defects

When researchers genetically engineered mice with the same gene variants, they found that pups were born with birth defects, but that this could be prevented by giving the mouse mums vitamin B3 during pregnancy.

According to the executive director of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Professor Robert Graham, the implications are profound. "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", Dunwoodie said in the institute's announcement.

This is the kind of birth defect that could be prevented in the future by women taking vitamin B3.

"Arguably, it's the most important discovery for pregnant women since folate", lead researcher Professor Sally Dunwoodie said of the breakthrough. Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

They found mutations in two genes that caused the child to be deficient in a vital molecule known as Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which allows cells to generate energy and organs to develop normally. 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".

Diets with small amounts of vitamin B3 produced baby mice with fewer abnormalities, and feed rich in the supplement fostered a healthy litter of animals.

The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. "It's extremely rare to discover the problem and provide a preventative solution at the same time", he added. Testing this on pregnant mice, they found B3 supplements helped prevent these malformations. "It's actually a double breakthrough". 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.

"Knowing that this breakthrough could mean that no babies are born with heart defects in the future, it just makes our hearts sing", she said.

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is usually found in meats and green vegetables, along with condiments such as Vegemite and Marmite.

After this dietary change, both miscarriages and birth defects in the mice were completely eradicated, and all offspring were born healthily.

To that end, the researchers say the next step will be developing a diagnostic test akin to a pregnancy test, sampling either urine or blood, which could easily show which women could be low in NAD.

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