A common vitamin supplement could significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects, Australian scientists said.
The study on pregnancy found that deficiency in a key molecule among pregnant women stopped babies organs from developing properly in the womb. This could be treated by taking the dietary supplement vitamin B3, also known as niacin, Business Times reported.
The scientists studied families suffering from miscarriages and birth defects and by using genetic sequencing found gene mutations that affected the production of NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide).
Vitamin B3 is needed to make NAD and scientists tested taking the supplement on mice embryos that had similar NAD deficiencies as human one. After the dietary change, miscarriages and birth defects were prevented.
The next step, researches said, is to develop a test to measure NAD levels and thus identify which women were most at risk, AFP reported.
The study, funded by Australian government and through private donations added that current vitamin supplements for pregnant women might not contain enough of vitamin B3.
“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,” said Sally Dunwoodie, a biomedical researcher at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
Australian health minister Greg Hunt hailed the study as a “historic medical breakthrough.” With 7.9 million babies around the world being born with birth defects every year, this breakthrough is incredible news, he said.