There are many factors that contribute to miscarriages and birth defects – both genetic and those caused by complications of pregnancy. New research offers promising information for the future of prenatal care showing that Vitamin B3 could prevent miscarriage and some birth defects. Learn more about the research, why Vitamin B3 may help, and why you should talk to your doctor about any prenatal supplements.
Information About Vitamin B3 Research
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is an essential B vitamin. Niacin occurs naturally in the body from amino acid tryptophan. It is also commonly found in many foods such as chicken breast, tuna, red meat, peanuts, lentils, and whole grain products. Traditionally, Vitamin B3 is known to benefit overall health by way of lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, preventing heart disease, boosting brain function, and improving skin quality.
Now, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that Vitamin B3 also has significant promise for improving prenatal health. The research was initiated in response to a New Jersey Medical School study that found one-third of pregnant women studied had Vitamin B3 deficiency during their first trimester of pregnancy. The study further showed that 60 percent of women continued to have the deficiency until the third trimester.
Vitamin B3 is an important part of prenatal health because the body requires B3 to produce the protein nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD is found in all living cells and is an essential part of development because it helps cells communicate with each other, repair genes, and make energy. When NAD production is disrupted, cells cannot function normally, which can result in defects. Disruption may occur via environmental factors or genetic mutations.
In the study, researchers experimented on mice engineered to have the same genetic mutations as women in the study. On a regular diet, pregnant mice miscarried or gave birth to pups with birth defects. Pregnant mice given Vitamin B3 during pregnancy did not miscarry and all pups were born healthy with no signs of birth defects. While researchers note that more information is needed to assess the potential for Vitamin B3 in humans, there is an overall spirit of excitement about the possibility of reducing birth defect and miscarriage rates.
What Research Means for Prenatal Care
Though it is much too early to establish how Vitamin B3 should be used in general prenatal care, this study has opened a course of dialogue and continued investigation that could help women across the world. Currently, up to 20 percent of worldwide pregnancies, or 6 percent of all babies, are affected by miscarriage. Identifying risk factors and establishing preventative measures is important for women’s healthcare on a global scale.
It is no secret that one key to a healthy pregnancy is eating a balanced diet and observing healthy lifestyle habits. Women who are pregnant may find it helpful to talk to their doctor about taking a supplement containing Vitamin B3, or taking it on its own. Currently, the recommended daily dosage of Vitamin B3 is 18 miligrams per day. Researchers are continuing to investigate what dosage amounts are most successful and least dangerous to the patient.
Taking Care of Your Prenatal Health
During pregnancy, it is important that you and your doctor ensure that your health and that of your baby are both considered. Whether you are concerned about genetic birth defects, complications of pregnancy, miscarriage, or the labor and delivery process, it is important to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have. Talking to your doctor about supplements and possible risks can help present a clearer picture of your overall health, your individual needs, and how to plan for the course of your pregnancy and beyond.
Always make sure that you and your doctor are on the same page. If you experience symptoms that seem “off” or concerning, talk to your doctor immediately to avoid complications or birth injuries that may be preventable with timely diagnosis and treatment. While there are certainly situations where miscarriage, defects, or injuries cannot be prevented, open dialogue and collaborative healthcare can go a long way toward preventing injuries or treating them before they become catastrophic.
If you or your child have been injured during pregnancy, labor, or delivery and you believe that a healthcare provider’s negligence caused your injuries, you should also consider speaking with a birth injury attorney about protecting your legal rights. Patients have a legal right to quality, safe healthcare that meets acceptable standards of care. When healthcare providers deviate from those standards and you are injured as a result, you may have the right to file a medical malpractice or birth injury lawsuit.