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.

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Discussion Comments


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


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


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

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