Lack of vitamin B12 linked to miscarriage

2001-05-03 10:29

New York - Women who are deficient in vitamin B12 may be at risk for infertility or repeat miscarriages, but in many cases they can change their situation with vitamin therapy, an Israeli doctor reports.

In his study, Dr Michael Bennett of Ha'Emek Medical Centre in Afula, Israel, describes 14 women with infertility or repeated miscarriages who were deficient in vitamin B12--a rare condition. The nutrient plays a key role in the nervous system and the development of new tissue, and is also crucial in ovulation. Women who are deficient may not ovulate, for instance, or a fertilised egg may not develop, resulting in miscarriage.

But according to the report in a recent issue of The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 10 of the women conceived after beginning vitamin therapy; six of these women conceived almost immediately. Seven of the women were found to have mutations in a gene involved in metabolism of folate. That, combined with the B12 deficiency, increased their risk of thrombophilia, a condition in which they were at increased risk of clot formation. Six other women were found to have other causes of thrombophilia.

One woman had suffered seven miscarriages before doctors discovered that she was deficient in vitamin B12. The woman went on to have three children once the problem was corrected.

"Correcting this deficiency can rapidly lead to a normal pregnancy," Bennett writes. "This study illustrates the importance of measuring B12 every patient investigated for infertility or recurrent [miscarriage]."

Five women did not conceive, however. Three of these women were at least 40 years old and decided not to try to have children, one woman lost her husband and one woman had not become pregnant after three years, the report indicates.