Experiencing a pregnancy and giving birth changes a woman immensely in so ways, but did you know that women can become chimeras after having a baby? To get all sciencey on you, a chimera is an organism defined as having two types of DNA and cells in the body that come from two different organisms. A mother could possibly spend the rest of her life with cells from her baby in her own body after she has given birth.
This all happens during pregnancy when the fetus releases some of their cells through the placenta, which then transports them to the mother's bloodstream. This is all called "fetal microchimerism" and was discovered in the late 19th century by a German scientist named Georg Schmorl. The concept was revisited about a century later when it was theorized to explain why a Y chromosome was occasionally found in women's cells. Y chromosomes can only be passed from father to son, so this theory could definitely explain that mystery.
LiveScience reported that studies have shown that these cells can go anywhere in the body but more often than not, the mother's immune system will kill off these fetal cells after giving birth. But some cells evade the immune system and can remain in the mother's body much longer, sometimes for their entire life.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="800"] Via Baby Sense[/caption]
Scientists aren't sure why the cells that stay manage to stick around or what their purpose is. One hypothesis is that the cells remain to increase maternal hormones after giving birth and continue to provide assistance to post-birth processes in the mother's body such as lactation.
However, another theory wonders if the cells can actually harm the mother's body. These Y cells have been found in the diseased tissue of women who have suffered from autoimmune illnesses and cancer. Still, neither of these theories has been proven one way or another.
As a mother, you develop a deep bond with your child no matter what. But if you're walking around with the cells of your child in your body, perhaps that bond will become even stronger!
What do you think of these interesting findings? Let us know in the comments!