Know More about the Vitamin B3‑Miscarriage Study
A “landmark” and “breakthrough” Australian study has been doing the rounds among popular publications lately, announcing that Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) supplements can prevent miscarriage and birth defects. It’s a very broad claim to make and one likely to be misinterpreted by many pregnant women seeking to care for their developing baby in the best possible way.
Vitamin B3 supplementation has been shown, in this study, to prevent miscarriage and birth defects — in mice. Specifically, in mice genetically engineered to have a deficiency of NAD, a molecule essential to healthy organ development. That NAD deficiency can cause miscarriage or birth defects is the real discover here. But there’s still a lot scientists don’t know — namely, how many miscarriages and birth defects in humans a lack of NAD is responsible for (if any). NAD is typically formed in the bodies of healthy people whose diets include eggs, cheese, salmon, turkey, nuts and seeds.
Dig a little deeper, and it’s more media hype than ground-breaking study with immediate implications. From ABC News‘ report:
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said it was an exciting development but may be premature to compare it to the discovery about folate.
“Most miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities which are not caused by a vitamin deficiency or a mineral deficiency, so it’s not modifiable,” said the AMA’s president Michael Gannon.
We all want to find a way to prevent the sadness and pain of miscarriages and birth defects. But Gannon is right. As The Swaddle reported recently, miscarriage is typically the body’s way of ending a pregnancy with a DNA mash-up unlikely to result in a viable, healthy fetus. Taking a vitamin can’t change that. And while some birth defects are caused by deficiencies or overexposure, it’s unclear how many NAD can be linked to.
The study’s findings may just end up being an interesting possibility — that NAD deficiency can cause miscarriage and birth defects, not that it does. More research is needed. Until then, don’t run off and start dropping Vitamin B3; your prenatal vitamins already contain it, and too much of one vitamin can have negative effects, also.