'Breakthrough' as scientists discover vitamin can cut birth defects and miscarriages

A common vitamin found in iconic spread Vegemite could significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects worldwide

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is crucial for energy production and cell fix.

And Professor Robert Graham, executive director of the Institute, said: "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".

However, when the mice were fed vitamin B3 supplements, the litters were born progressively healthier depending on the strength of the dose.

"The findings might be restricted to families with multiple miscarriages and multiple birth defects, but it could have far broader relevance and affect many more families [at risk of having] babies with just one defect", Prof Dunwoodie said.

The study showed that increasing levels of B3 during pregnancy might help overall rates of birth defects.

Plans are now underway at the institute for controlled clinical trials testing the required levels of NAD and vitamin B3 in a large group of women.

On Wednesday night, The Project addressed the significance of the Australian research for women world-wide.

The researchers gave mutant pregnant mice low doses of niacin or nicotinamide (both known together as vitamin B3) and found that it led to pups with severe birth defects.

The results from the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have the scientific world buzzing.

"We have discovered a whole new cause of birth defects and a way to treat it as well", she said.

The finding from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, in Australia, is being called a "breakthrough" in pregnancy research. This time, numerous pubs died before birth and those that were born had severe defects similar to the ones seen in the human babies.

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

Taking a remarkably common vitamin supplement, Vitamin B3 (or niacin), before and during pregnancy could be the deterrence to miscarriages and birth defects during pregnancy, scientists announced on Thursday. "It's rare that you find a cause and a prevention in the same study".

With Vitamin B3 - found in meat and vegetables - needed to make NAD, they tested the effect of taking the supplement on developing mice embryos that had similar NAD deficiencies as human ones, and found a significant change.

For now, Professor Dunwoodie recommended pregnant women take a pregnancy-specific multivitamin, which includes the advised 18 milligrams of niacin.

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