As the slogan “my body, my choice” gets older and older, it is being refuted even more by science. But not the science you’re thinking of.
Robert Martone, a research scientist with extensive experience in drug discovery for neurodegenerative diseases, has discovered very compelling evidence that shows the connection between mother and child to be much deeper than we may have thought.
Cells from her developing baby pass through the placenta during gestation and take up lodging throughout the mother’s body, particularly in the brain. They have all kinds of medical implications, from helping with tissue repair, to cancer prevention and auto-immune responses.
It is remarkable that it is so common for cells from one individual to integrate into the tissues of another distinct person. We are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as singular autonomous individuals, and these foreign cells seem to belie that notion, and suggest that most people carry remnants of other individuals. As remarkable as this may be, stunning results from a new study show that cells from other individuals are also found in the brain.
Dr. Martone found that in women with many children, 60% of their brains were inhabited by male and female cells from their children.
These cells seem to be inter-generational, appearing in the pregnant mother from her own previous gestation in her mother’s womb, and from her past or present pregnancies. They also appeared in siblings and twins.
Microchimerism most commonly results from the exchange of cells across the placenta during pregnancy, however there is also evidence that cells may be transferred from mother to infant through nursing. In addition to exchange between mother and fetus, there may be exchange of cells between twins in utero, and there is also the possibility that cells from an older sibling residing in the mother may find their way back across the placenta to a younger sibling during the latter’s gestation. Women may have microchimeric cells both from their mother as well as from their own pregnancies, and there is even evidence for competition between cells from grandmother and infant within the mother.
It certainly gives new meaning to the notion that no man is an island, and that we are all, somehow, interconnected.