… in which we encounter the remarkable phenomenon of microchimerism:
In science, microchimerism refers to the presence of a small population of genetically distinct and separately derived cells within an individual. In pregnancy, small amounts of cells travel across the placenta. Some of these cells are the prenatal child’s cells that travel from the baby into her mother, and some cells also pass from the mother into her child. The cells from the prenatal child into her mother are pluripotent, which means they haven’t yet differentiated into the type of cell specific for one organ or tissue in particular. These cells find their way into mother’s tissue and start acting like the tissue in which they find themselves. This process is known as feto-maternal microchimerism.
That is fascinating! In what ways can these fetal cells protect the mother in later life – or put her at risk?
Their full impact is still being understood, but some of these cells have been hypothesized to help mom in the time after birth and also for years to come. For example, these cells have been found in Caesarean sections incisions helping to make collagen to help mom heal after a surgical delivery. These cells have also been found in the maternal breast and have been hypothesized to help reduce mom’s risk of breast cancer in her later years. Kristin Collier, “Together, baby; forever, baby” at MercatorNet
One wonders how many remarkable complex facts we miss if we are looking for the simple thing that just sort of happens.
See also: Convergence: Wallabies Do Have Placentas As Well As Milk That Does Placenta Jobs