Research breakthrough that could prevent miscarriage

Recently, the team at The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute were in the media discussing their breakthrough in pregnancy research that is believed may be able to prevent miscarriages and multiple different birth defects.

Monash IVF Group Medical Director, Professor Luk Rombauts, has tempered the media’s suggestion that most miscarriages could now be prevented by taking vitamin B3.

The research from The Victor Chang Institute is really interesting and the implications are quite significant. However, as is usually the case, the announcement in the media was somewhat overhyped and it is important for our IVF patients to understand exactly what the study showed. 

Media reports suggested that most miscarriages could now be prevented by taking vitamin B3. This is not correct. It is estimated that 70-90% of all miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo and these are usually linked to the effect of aging on egg quality. No vitamin supplement or other medication will overcome this.

The findings reported by the team of Prof Sally Dunwoodie in the New England Journal of Medicine relates specifically to women who have don’t make enough nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). Her research has shown that this can lead to heart, spinal, kidney and cleft palate problems in newborn babies and it may also cause with some embryos these malformations to miscarry early on. Her research in mice has shown that this may be overcome by taking extra vitamin B3 but studies in humans are yet to confirm this.

In conclusion, there is certainly benefit in making sure that vitamin B3 uptake is adequate but it will not prevent most miscarriages. Patients should also keep in mind that chromosomally abnormal embryos miscarry for a reason. These embryos are rarely viable and when they survive to term they are associated with significant abnormalities such as Down syndrome. Still, it is important for women with more than two or three miscarriages to discuss further testing with their specialist.

You can read about the research on news.com.au 

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