Vitamin B3 claims slammed by obstetricians

August 11, 2017

Professor Sally Dunwoodie's claims about miscarriage and B3 have been called in to question.

Claims Vitamin B3 has the potential to save millions of miscarriages and prevent birth defects have been been slammed by obstetricians.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) says the "extraordinary" suggestions by researchers at the Victor Chang Institute were based on a tiny mouse study and have the potential to do more harm than good..

"There are literally millions of women affected by these problems and we would just hate for women to suddenly pin their hopes on something that's essentially a tiny little mouse study," RANZCOG President Professor Steve Robson told AAP on Friday.

Researchers, led by Professor Sally Dunwoodie, announced on Thursday they had uncovered the cause of many miscarriages and complex birth defects and had also found a potential way to prevent these occurring by using the simple dietary supplement, Vitamin B3.

The study, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, found a deficiency in a vital molecule, known as NAD, prevents a baby's organs developing correctly in the womb.

It also found this deficiency was cured and miscarriages and birth defects prevented through naiacin or Vitamin B3 supplements in genetically-engineered mice.

"This has the potential to significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects around the world," Prof Dunwoodie said.

"Some 15,000 women in Australia every year have a child with a birth defect or they suffer from multiple miscarriages. This discovery brings hope to many of those women."

Victor Chang Institute, Professor Robert Graham hailed the finding as "one of our country's greatest".

While the science in the study has not been questioned, RANZCOG say the conclusions draw a "very long bow".

"Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence and I'm not necessarily sure that's been met at the moment."

"If you are going to make announcements that potentially affect literally millions of women then you have got to have a pretty strong basis and some mouse studies in their early stages I think need a little more than that," he said.

"We urge extreme caution in applying these results to anybody's personal situation at the moment," Prof Robson added.

He says much more research is needed before any potential Vitamiin B3 recommendations are made.

Pregnant women are advised to eat a healthy diet and take folic acid.

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