Once pregnant, always a mother

In September 2013 on September 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm

pregnancy shadow

Sarah: A New York Times article by science writer Carl Zimmer captured my imagination this morning.

In DNA Double Take, Carl presents and discusses recent evidence that our genomes (the total amounts of DNA in our bodies) are not as simple as we once thought.

One section of the piece tackles the genes in tissues of mothers:

Women can also gain genomes from their children. After a baby is born, it may leave some fetal cells behind in its mother’s body, where they can travel to different organs and be absorbed into those tissues. “It’s pretty likely that any woman who has been pregnant is a chimera*,” Dr. Randolph said.

*where a chimera in this case is a person with two different genetic profiles

Chatting with Dr Ngaire Elwood about this part of the paper on twitter this morning, we both agreed it was pretty cool that we retained a permanent record of our children in our own genomes.

And then it occurred to me that perhaps even pregnancies which don’t proceed to term are still present as a genetic ‘memory’ in women. Even though I only have 3 children now, perhaps there are elements of the fourth pregnancy I also experienced still in my body.

I love that idea.

[image thanks to zeevveez on flickr]

  1. […] Thinking about fertility: and […]

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