Before the birth of my two daughters, I had a miscarriage. One day I did a pregnancy test and my entire world changed, and the next day I was bleeding onto a hospital waiting room floor. The fact I had only known I was pregnant for one day did not change the intense grief I suffered at the loss of this baby. In that one day my future had changed and I didn’t know how to change it back.
In the weeks after, women who I had known for years called me and told me of their own miscarriage stories. Some I had known had miscarried but many of then I hadn’t known. It was like we suddenly knew each other on a deeper level, linked by a pain we could both now understand. I couldn’t believe the amount of women in my world who had experienced this grief and so many of them silently.
In Australia one in four pregnancies will result in miscarriage and 7.9 million babies worldwide are born with birth defects.
Today a medical breakthrough was announced that could significantly reduce the amount of miscarriages and birth defects. The breakthrough made by scientists at Sydney’s Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute could mean something as simple as taking the vitamin supplement B3 (niacin) during the very early stages of pregnancy.
Monty and Tara Moss chat about their experience with miscarriage below:
“The ramifications are likely to be huge. This has the potential to significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects around the world, and I do not use those words lightly,” lead researcher Professor Sally Dunwoodie said.
Having low levels of a molecule called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) damages embryos in the crucial first weeks of pregnancy when organs start forming, the scientists at Victor Chang Institute discovered. Over a third of pregnant women have NAD deficiencies in their first trimester which can be corrected by the right amount of the vitamin B3. Professor Dunwoodie says many pregnant women may require more B3 than is currently available in most vitamin supplements.
The researchers say their next step is to develop a test to help identify which women are most at risk from having a baby with a birth defect, and to then ensure they have sufficient vitamin B3.
Professor Robert Graham, the institute’s executive director, said: “We believe that this breakthrough will be one of Australia’s greatest medical discoveries.” The finding are seen as groundbreaking as the discovery that folic acid supplementation can prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects in babies.
What a day for science! And for families-to-be around the world.
Many of the incredible women who have sat On The Couch with us have shared their heartbreaking stories of miscarriage.