New research suggesting vitamin B3 can prevent miscarriage and fetal abnormality should be taken with caution

11 August 2017

Media Release


Research from the Victor Chang Institute suggesting that increased uptake of vitamin B3 during pregnancy can prevent miscarriage and birth defects could promote false hope among millions of families worldwide who are facing these challenges. The institute has hailed this finding as “one of the greatest discoveries in pregnancy research” however without further controlled studies, this claim has the potential to do more harm than good.

The publication by Professor Dunwoodie and her group describes four couples suffering from congenital malformation in their infants. Three of the four couples had a consanguineous relationship, an unusual circumstance that is not representative of the great majority of couples with miscarriage or fetal abnormality. The research group performed studies in mice and found that niacin (Vitamin B3) could prevent abnormal fetal development in mice with the same mutations.   

These outcomes have yet to be demonstrated in humans and there is no data to support dietary supplementation with niacin to prevent recurrent miscarriage or fetal abnormality. Until randomised controlled studies are done, it is premature to claim a medical breakthrough. Women should be advised to use a multivitamin supplement in the peri-conception period however excessive consumption of vitamin B3 may be harmful to both the woman and the baby.  




Dr Pieter Mourik (AM)

Being recognised in the Australia Day honours was a highlight for this rural medicine advocate.



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