A landmark Australian study has discovered Vitamin B3 can cure critical molecular deficiencies in pregnant women that cause miscarriages and birth defects.
The breakthrough made at Sydney’s Victor Chang Cardia Research Institute may spare scores of couples across the world the heartbreak of losing an unborn child and the challenges of raising a baby with a birth defect.
“The ramifications are likely to be huge. 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,” lead researcher Professor Sally Dunwoodie said on Thursday.
Every year 7.9 million babies are born with a birth defect worldwide, while one in four Australian pregnant women suffers a miscarriage.
In most cases the cause of these problems has remained a mystery.
Using whole exome sequencing technology, researchers looked for gene variants in families that had experienced multiple congenital malformations.
Prof Dunwoodie and her team found that a deficiency in a vital molecule, known as NAD, cripples the growth of an embryo in the womb.
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is one of the most important molecules in all living cells. It’s synthesis is essential for energy production, DNA repair and cell communication.
Environmental and genetic factors can disrupt its production.
After 12 years of research, Prof Dunwoodie revealed that a NAD deficiency can be cured by taking dietary supplement vitamin B3, also known as niacin.