Marmite Could Prevent Miscarriage And Birth Defects, Says 'Breakthrough' Study

Mother with her baby

Dr Katie Morris, an expert in maternal foetal medicine at the University of Birmingham, said: "While exciting, this discovery can not be translated into recommendations for pregnant women, who at most may be deficient in vitamin B3".

"This is great for awareness now for women to take it while they are pregnant".

About 60 percent of pregnant woman in their third trimester were found to have low levels of vitamin B3, according to the report.

It's the first time that NAD (aka nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) has been linked to congenital abnormalities, identifying a previously unknown cause of birth defects - along with the supplement that might treat the problem. However, the researchers then realized that the food they were feeding the mice was rich in vitamin B3, and helping the mice to create NAD by an alternative pathway.

It's vital for energy production, DNA fix and helping the body's cells communicate.

Scientists investigated the effect of vitamin B3 on developing mouse embryos, finding miscarriages and birth defects were prevented.

Affected babies have anomalies in at least three of the spine, anus, heart, windpipe, eosophagus and limbs.

The team detected gene mutations in some of the mothers associated with a deficiency of B3 and an inability to synthesize enough NAD.

Initially, after tinkering with the genes in lab mice, none of the offspring ended up with any birth defects.

According to Sky News, the next step for scientists is to develop a test identifying women at risk of having a baby with a defect, so they might be given increased amounts of the vitamin.

When you consider that nearly 8 million babies are born each year with a birth defect, this study could have a big global impact in the future.

One in four women also suffer from a miscarriage.

"The Australian population is not considered to be deficient in niacin", she says. More research is needed in humans, she agreed, and on what dose would be safe for women.

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.

"The ramifications are likely to be huge", she said.

"But, we're not all the same in how we absorb nutrients", she said, adding that body mass index and diabetes can influence how a woman produces NAD.

Michael Fenech of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, a government agency for scientific research in Australia, said the new research is "an important discovery". "Furthermore, this dose may not be safe given that the tolerable upper intake level for niacin is only 35 milligrams a day for adults".

Related News: