To this day, the cause of 80% of birth defects is still unknown to scientists, but with the new discovery, pregnant women around the world will now be able to avert these abnormalities like cleft palate, kidney, heart and spinal issues.
"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", Dunwoodie said in the institute's announcement.
Researchers have identified a deficiency in a developmental molecule called NAD that can keep a baby's organs from forming properly in the womb - but the shortfall could be addressed by pregnant women taking vitamin B3, which may prevent a range of birth defects.
As NAD is essential for the development and fix of genes, medical journals are suggesting that taking vitamin B3 leading up to and during your pregnancy will be an efficient preventative measure of counteracting any deficiency.
The discovery, believed to be among Australia's greatest every medical breakthroughs, is expected to forever change the way pregnant women are cared for across the world.
Professor Sally Dunwoodie, who has led the research, said: "Now, after 12 years of research, our team has also discovered that this deficiency can be cured and miscarriages and birth defects prevented by taking a common vitamin".
Scientists at the Victor Chang Institute in Sydney discovered that having low levels of the molecule nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) can damage embryos in the first weeks of pregnancy, the ABC reports. Environmental and genetic factors can disrupt its production, which causes a NAD deficiency.
Diets with small amounts of vitamin B3 produced baby mice with fewer abnormalities, and feed rich in the supplement fostered a healthy litter of animals.
The next step will be to develop a diagnostic test to measure NAD levels.
More research will be needed to work out the best way to consume B3 (a supplement may be better than Marmite on toast, for example), and the researchers say they'll need to look at current pregnancy supplements on the market, which may not have enough B3. It's extremely rare to discover the problem and provide a preventive solution at the same time.
It's found in meat, poultry, green vegetables and even Vegemite, yet nearly a third of pregnant women are deficient in the vitamin. "It's actually a double breakthrough".