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by German scientist Georg Schmorl proved that mothers can carry cells from their babies even after
birth. While scientists continue to study why the cells continue to thrive in
the mother's body, they also suggest that each person's body may contain cells
from older siblings, grandparents and other relatives as well.
According to an article on NPR, Dr. J. Lee Nelson, a fetal medicine expert at the University of Washington in
Seattle, explained that a fetus releases fetal material into the mother's blood circulation and
internal organs through the placenta. This fetal material contains DNA from the
fetus, tiny pieces of the placenta and potent fetal cells.
"They can go to the liver and become liver cells, or go into the
heart and become muscle cells," Nelson says. Fetal cells can even cross the blood-brain
barrier and turn into neurons.
Initially linked to destructive health conditions such as preeclampsia and
autoimmune diseases, scientists have found fetal cells in scar tissues left by C-sections. These cells produce
collagen which helps the mother recover after birth by repairing wounds.
also reduce the risk of rheumatoid
arthritis and are suspected to protect against breast cancer.
"Being an optimist, I think the benefits will outweigh the
times when they're problematical," Nelson says. "So it's actually a
This cooperation isn't
one-sided—cells from the mom also cross the placenta and enter the fetal body, which means you've got your mom's cells inside you.
Since your mom had cells in her body from any other
pregnancies and cells from her mom, that means you likely have cells from your
older siblings, from your grandmother and maybe even your