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10 August 2017, 05:36 | Todd Saunders
Vegemite could be the key to preventing miscarriages and birth defects a study has found
Taking a common vitamin supplement could significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects worldwide, Australian scientists said Thursday, in what they described as a major breakthrough in pregnancy research. To this day, the cause of 80% of birth defects is still unknown to scientists, but with the new discovery, pregnant women around the world will now be able to avert these abnormalities like cleft palate, kidney, heart and spinal issues.
Professor Sally Dunwoodie, who has led the research, 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".
Researchers found a deficiency in a vital molecule, known as NAD, prevents a baby's organs from developing properly in the womb.
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.
NAD is one of the most important molecules in all living cells.
But while many pregnant women take dietary supplements, research has shown that up to one third of women in the U.S. have low levels of vitamin B3 during their pregnancy.
The research suggests that taking in vitamin B3 can cure that deficiency.
But, environmental and genetic factors can disrupt its production, causing a NAD deficiency.
Scientists are now working on a test to measure levels of NAD, to work out which women have a higher likelihood of miscarriage, and could therefore benefit from a B3 supplement.
By the third trimester, vitamin B3 levels were low in 60 per cent of mums-to-be, experts noted.
This particular vitamin is found in meat and vegetables and is also found in high concentration in Marmite.
But this doesn't mean our hearts go out to those who have lost their children to miscarriage or birth defect in the past...
After the dietary change, both the miscarriages and birth defects were completely prevented, with all the offspring born perfectly healthy.
The research is all the more remarkable for simultaneously discovering what's behind the problems as well as a tangible solution. "It's actually a double breakthrough", said Robert Graham, Executive Director of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
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