Can a Fetus's Cells Migrate to Its Mother?

A fetus's cells can and do migrate to its mother. Cells pass between a mother and a fetus during pregnancy, after which they can stay in the body and reproduce for decades, a condition called microchimerism. Researchers have found male cells in women's blood after pregnancy, and the cells are also often found in a mother's brain. A mother can also pass cells to a fetus, but this happens about half as frequently as the reverse.

More about microchimerism:

  • It's not entirely clear why microchimerism happens, and it's still being researched, but it seems like it may have several impacts on health. Some studies shows that microchimerism may lower a woman's chances of cancer, while others show that it may increase her chances of having an autoimmune disease.

  • Some women have male cells in their blood even if they haven't had sons. Researchers aren't sure why this is, but they think that it could be caused by a missed early miscarriage or by the woman's mother passing on cells from the woman's older brother that the mother acquired during pregnancy.

  • Microchimerism can also occur in people who get blood transfusions, though it's much rarer than that from pregnancy.

Follow wiseGEEK:

More Info:

Discuss this Article

Post 4

My friend's mother got much darker in complexion after a blood transfusion. How does science explain this?

Post 3

Please tell us about other side-effects/liabilities and advantages of microchimerism.

Post 1

I don't really understand what this article is saying or the implications that would result because of the transfer of cells.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?



Free Widgets for your Site/Blog

Hundreds of Quebec doctors have rejected a pay raise; they want the funds to be used elsewhere in the health system.  more...
March 17 ,  1762 :  The first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in New York.  more...