Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Kids Never Really Leave Home, Leave Their Junk Everywhere

NPR aired a story this morning on research finding that babies' cells linger inside the mother's body for decades. Decades, people, even if the pregnancy was miscarried or terminated. This is somtimes referred to as "fetal cell microchimerism;" chimerism is "the occurrence in an individual of two or more cell populations of different chromosomal constitutions, derived from different individuals." You may be more familiar with the Chimera from Greek mythology.

The NPR story can be downloaded from the website, and does a good job of explaining the two main hypotheses regarding these cells; the first suggests that these cells may contribute to autoimmune diseases, while the second proposes that the cells help the mother stay healthy throughout her life by rushing to sites of disease or injury and providing some benefit. Alternately, the cells may do nothing good or bad - they may just float around inside women's bodies.

Here's a list of citations on the topic; in most cases you can read the article abstracts, and some will be free online. Personally, I'm hoping the "Good Hypothesis" is proven correct, because it would have a nice evolutionary purpose of helping to keep the mother healthy, and otherwise this is just a little gross. I mean, shouldn't we be getting dragon tails out this? :)

Technorati Tags: ; ;
MeSH Tags: (use the link above for a search on the topic, or these terms for individual concepts) Chimerism OR Chimera; Fetus/cytology; Maternal-Fetal Exchange/Genetics; Pregnancy


Blogger Kat Coble said...

As a woman who has had numerous miscarriages, allow me to say "congratulations for making me feel extremely creepy today."

I always feeel liiiiike...somebodeee's watchin' meeee...

1:34 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was a a little grossed out. Actually, I kind of wanted to vomit and then have my entire body scrubbed out with a wire brush, even through I've never, to my knowledge, been pregnant.

5:51 AM  

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