The “blockbuster breakthrough to prevent birth defects and miscarriages” release – Historic Discovery Promises to Prevent Miscarriages and Birth Defects Globally – describes a “double discovery” made by researchers at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Australia that, theoretically, will greatly reduce the number of birth defects and miscarriages worldwide.
The premise rests on the discovery that genetic mutations causing a deficiency in one type of molecule (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD) can lead to birth defects in humans. The researchers then tested the impact of vitamin B3 (or niacin) supplements on mouse models engineered to have the same mutations who were deficient in NAD. They found that the mice who had higher levels of niacin were less likely to have offspring with birth defects.
The news release hid the fact that the vitamin supplements (referring only to “preclinical models”) were tested in mice, and not humans. But most worrying was the use of extremely sensationalist language prevalent throughout the release. The language was so overblown that it could give false hope to women without properly describing the limits of the research.
…continue reading Claims that niacin prevents miscarriages in humans grossly exaggerated, healthnewsreview, August 14, 2017.
- NAD Deficiency, Congenital Malformations, and Niacin Supplementation, N Engl J Med 2017; 377:544-552, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1616361, August 10, 2017.
- Vitamin profile of 563 gravidas during trimesters of pregnancy, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, NCBI PubMed PMID: 11838885, 2002 Feb.
- Featured image credit @HealthNewsRevu.