Baby Cells Help Heal the Mother’s Brain and Heart
Did you know that during pregnancy, your foetal cells circulated inside your mother’s bloodstream?
Foetal cells you contributed to your own mother may be found in her blood, bone marrow, skin, kidney, and liver. These foetal cells appear to “treat” her when she is ill or injured. Researchers have noticed the presence of these cells in women diagnosed with illnesses such as thyroid disease and hepatitis C. Even more amazing, scientists have recently discovered that your foetal cells actually traveled to organs like the heart or brain. These foetal cells living inside the mum are called microchimeric cells.
Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that in 63% of 59 female brains, genes unique to a Y-chromosome, i.e. originating from a male, were present. These cells, scientists say, came from a male foetus the women had given birth to at some point in their lives.
Your foetal cells persist in the maternal blood stream for years after pregnancy. They resemble pluripotent stem cells – they have the ability to become heart or brain cells. What this means functionally is still uncertain.
New evidence indicates that the microchimeric cells have the potential to assist in healing the mother’s brain and heart. There’s even evidence that foetal cells provide some protection against certain cancers. For example, they’re much more prevalent in the breast tissue of healthy women than in those with breast cancer. And foetal cells can contribute stem cells, generate new neurons in the mother’s brain, even help to heal her heart.
Foetal cells may influence a woman’s autoimmunity, although it’s not yet known if they are always beneficial. According to fascinating accounts in Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy, the more foetal cells there are in a woman’s body, the less likely she is to have conditions such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. That’s not always the case. It’s thought that a mother’s body may battle those cells, thus promoting her own autoimmune disorders.
Baby gives back! Transfer of cells between mother and baby