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11 August 2017

Statement regarding pregnancy discovery


The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute has been overwhelmed by the messages of congratulations we have received for our discovery that low levels of NAD are linked to miscarriages and birth defects. NAD is formed from dietary vitamin B3 (niacin).

The Victor Chang Institute is encouraging women to follow the current recommended dose of vitamin B3 (18mg per day) when preparing for pregnancy. Soon we will be conducting controlled clinical trials testing the required levels of NAD and vitamin B3 in a large group of women before and during pregnancy.

Under no circumstances do we want to offer false hope to families who have been affected by miscarriage or birth defects. However, our research provides strong evidence that vitamin B3 has the potential to prevent these terrible outcomes in some cases. The Victor Chang Institute would never suggest that this discovery will explain all causes of miscarriage and birth defects. 

It is not known how many cases of miscarriage and birth defects are caused by low levels of NAD. It is also not yet known what dose of vitamin B3 will prevent miscarriage and birth defects. Further research in this important area is underway at the Victor Chang Institute. 

Our study, which started in 2005, identified the cause of disease in a small group of families with a rare condition (VACTERL). However, after extensive research over 12 years we showed the findings had far greater potential.

Using a mouse model, we showed that low levels of NAD were the cause of multiple types of birth defects and miscarriages - even in normal mice that did not have the rare genetic condition. A higher dose of vitamin B3 during pregnancy prevented the birth defects and miscarriages in all mice. This indicates that the benefits of vitamin B3 are more broadly applicable to the wider population and is not limited to a rare genetic condition.

This research has featured in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine and represents a significant advance in the understanding of miscarriages and birth defects. Its full potential will be realised with further research.    

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