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Australia vitamin ‘breakthrough’ to cut miscarriages, birth defects

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. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that deficiency in a key molecule among pregnant women stopped embryos and babies’ organs from developing correctly in the womb, but could be treated by taking the dietary supplement vitamin B3, also known as niacin. “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. “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.” Health Minister Greg Hunt hailed the study as a “historic medical breakthrough”. “Today’s announcement provides new hope to the one in four pregnant women who suffer a miscarriage,” Hunt said Thursday, citing Australian data. “And with 7.9 million babies around the world currently being born with birth defects every year, this breakthrough is incredible news.” The scientists used genetic sequencing on families suffering from miscarriages and birth defects and found gene mutations that affected production of the molecule, NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide).–Agencies

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