‘WE NEED TO BETTER UNDERSTAND MISCARRIAGE’
A new study suggests that vitamin B3 could stop recurring miscarriages, but Dr Christian is cautiously optimistic
esearch has found R a link between vitamin B3 and miscarriage, and headlines have described it as a “breakthrough.” The study said vitamin B3 was “confirmed to prevent birth defects,” and even said Marmite (which contains B-vitamins) could “prevent miscarriage.” That’s a huge overstatement.
LACK OF PROOF
The study analysed the DNA of 13 families where the mothers had suffered multiple miscarriages, or where their babies had been born with multiple birth defects, and four of them had mutations in two genes. They then found that these mutations could be corrected with niacin, or vitamin B3 – but this was done in mice, not humans.
Miscarriage is poorly understood and difficult to explain, so it’s great to see new research. But don’t rush out to buy Marmite and supplements, because vitamins can be toxic in high doses, particularly to foetuses – and this isn’t proof it will prevent you miscarrying.
I’m sceptical that a vitamin can repair a gene mutation. Also, this particular mutation doesn’t cause all miscarriages, just some, so it wouldn’t help all patients.
There are many reasons a baby can be lost. The majority are caused by abnormalities in the baby’s chromosomes, which can’t be prevented. People worry they can’t exercise or have sex while pregnant – they fear that if they’re stressed or emotional it will make them miscarry, but none of that is true.
There are things you can do to protect against miscarriage; be a healthy weight, take folic acid before getting pregnant and avoid smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs during pregnancy. However, it’s a complex topic and there are lots of causes.
A patient of mine endured two miscarriages, and was dreading having another, but only around one in 100 women experience recurrent miscarriages (three or more in a row) and more than 60 per cent of these women go on to have a successful pregnancy.
But all news is good news, and what’s even better is if this turns out to be the breakthrough the headlines suggested. It’s cheap and very simple and doesn’t involve drugs or treatments.
The first national miscarriage centre opened last year, too, and its whole purpose is to investigate why they happen. We wish we could give parents the answers they’re looking for, and hopefully with research like this, things will begin to change. It’s complex, but we’re working on it.