If you’re thinking about having a baby, you know how simultaneously exciting and terrifying the prospect can be. Luckily, new research may help those of us planning to be moms someday rest a little easier when it comes to miscarriage fears. A study conducted at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney, Australia, followed four families in which mothers suffered miscarriages or had babies with multiple defects and concluded that “mutations in two genes caused the child to be deficient in a vital molecule known as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which allows cells to generate energy and organs to develop normally.” Researchers then replicated the mutations in mice but corrected them using a very simple antidote—vitamin B3 (aka niacin). “You can boost your levels of NAD and completely prevent the miscarriages and birth defects,” says lead researcher Sally Dunwoodie. “It bypasses the genetic problem. It’s rare that you find a cause and a prevention in the same study. And the prevention is so simple, it’s a vitamin.”
Though this is huge news, it’s not immediately applicable to pregnant women, as the dosage of niacin used in the study was 10 times the recommended allowance for expectant mothers. The side effects of such high quantities of niacin are not yet known, and this study was very small, so the conclusion is best viewed as an exciting breakthrough rather than an absolute cure. Still, we can’t help but be encouraged by the findings. For now Dunwoodie says expecting moms should continue to take a pregnancy-specific multivitamin that contains the currently recommended dosage of niacin.