The relationship in pregnancy between a mother and her unborn child is a unique connection, unlike anything else.
New scientific research continues to reveal how this special bond has lasting physical effects long after birth. In the 19th century, scientists first discovered that an unborn baby’s cells stay in the mother’s body after birth; but new research is providing an even deeper understanding of this unique connection.
World Magazine reports that scientists are examining how the baby’s cells can travel through the placenta, into the mother’s bloodstream and then to her brain, liver and other organs.
The report continues:
In September 2012, the journal PLOS ONE published a study in which [University of Washington researcher J. Lee] Nelson and her team examined the brains of 59 deceased older women who had given birth to sons. They found male Y chromosomes left behind by the baby boys in 63 percent of the maternal brains.
It appears these cells are often a beneficial gift from baby. Fetal cells can make collagen, which facilitates wound healing, and they may reduce the mother’s risk of rheumatoid arthritis. They may also help protect the mother from cancer, V.K. Gadi, an oncologist at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, told USA Today.
The exchange of cells is a two-way relationship: The mother’s cells also cross the placenta into the baby, including those cells she carries from previous pregnancies and from her own mother. That means we may all be carrying bits of our older siblings and grandmothers within us, Amy Boddy, a postdoctoral fellow at Arizona State University, told NPR.
Initially researchers blamed rogue fetal cells for maternal health risks such as pre-eclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication, and autoimmune diseases.
But Nelson believes the benefits outweigh potential problems: “It’s actually a beautiful cooperation.”
Other studies provide scientific evidence for how a mother and unborn child develop bonding in the womb. As LifeNews reported in 2011, there is increasing evidence that “when a woman has a baby, she gets not just a son or daughter, [but] an army of protective cells – gifts from her children that will stay inside her and defend her for the rest of her life.”
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Researchers at Tufts University found dozens of a baby’s cells in just a teaspoon of a pregnant woman’s blood.
“The cells of an unborn child will stay in the mother for decades… essentially forever,” said a researcher from Thomas Jefferson University. “There’s a lot of evidence now starting to come out that these cells may actually be repairing tissue.”
A study involving a Boston woman with hepatitis (and a history of five pregnancies) found hundreds of fetal cells at work “repairing” her liver.