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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Astounding: Your Baby Can Heal You!

Posted by jlwile on October 30, 2013

This Facebook Meme is actually correct!

I avoided Facebook for a long time, but a few years ago, I finally gave in. Not long after I started connecting with long lost friends and finding out what everyone was eating, I learned the joys of Facebook memes. Every day now, I see lots of pictures with snarky sayings on them coming across my news feed. Some of them are funny, and some try to make a point. Many times, the ones that try to make a point are just dead wrong. They include either outright falsehoods or an incredibly mischaracterized fact. Thus, whenever I see a “science meme” or a “political meme,” I generally ignore it.

However, when the meme at the top of this article came across my newsfeed, I had to investigate it. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that almost two years ago, a talented writer named Amanda Read posted a story about how a baby’s cells reside in his or her mother long after the baby is born, and they may aid the mother in healing certain kinds of tissues. I was incredibly skeptical of the story, but when I did some investigation, I found out that it was true. Later on, I learned about a study that showed how a baby leaves DNA behind in his mother’s brain, and those “fetal remnants” might even fight against neurological disorders!

Since we are still barely scratching the surface in our understanding of the the amazing design behind pregnancy, I decided to pay attention to this Facebook meme. Of course, I knew that the statement on the left is true. All sorts of things pass through the placenta from the mother to the child, and that includes blood proteins which fight disease and shape the development of the baby’s B-cells.1 Those B-cells will affect the child’s ability to fight disease for the rest of his or her life.

I was, however, very skeptical of the statement on the right. Surprisingly, there is strong scientific evidence to back it up!

The main study that supports this claim was done using mice.2 In the study, the researchers took female mice that had never mated before and mated them with male mice that had been genetically engineered to make a green, fluorescing protein in their cells. As a result, half of the offspring produced by this mating process also had the ability to make that protein. Since the females did not have that ability, any cells in the mother that produced the green, fluorescing protein must have come from the fetus developing inside her.

While these female mice were still pregnant, they induced a heart attack in them and waited for two weeks. After that, they killed the mother mice and did an autopsy. Guess what they found? They found cells with the green, fluorescing protein in the mother’s heart and blood vessels! The cells were found right where the heart and blood vessels needed repair. In addition, they were not found in the mother’s undamaged organs. Thus, the fetus clearly was able to send its stem cells through the placenta to the damaged region of its mother’s heart so that they could aid in healing her!

Now, of course, this study didn’t involve humans, but its results neatly explain a puzzling fact that has been known for quite some time. In the authors’ own words:

These studies were inspired by the recovery noted in peripartum cardiomyopathy [a heart problem that usually occurs in the last month of pregnancy], whereby a remarkable 50% of women recover from heart failure spontaneously. Peripartum cardiomyopathy has the highest rate of recovery among all etiologies of heart failure, and the reasons for this high rate of recovery are not understood. In fact, it was this very observation that prompted us to hypothesize that there might be a fetal or placental contribution to counteract maternal cardiac injury.

Now the authors are quick to point out that their study isn’t a perfect analogy for peripartum cardiomyopathy in humans, and obviously a lot more research needs to be done. However, I think the data speak for themselves. As the Facebook meme says, “When the mother suffers organ damage such as a heart attack, the fetus sends stem cells through the placenta to repair the damaged organ.”

The more I study creation, the more I stand in awe of its amazing Designer!

REFERENCES

1. Neonatal Immunity, Constantin A. Bona, Ed., Human Press 2005, p. 162
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2. Rina J. Kara, Paola Bolli, Ioannis Karakikes, Iwao Matsunaga, Joseph Tripodi, Omar Tanweer, Perry Altman, Neil S. Shachter, Austin Nakano, Vesna Najfeld, and Hina W. Chaudhry, “Fetal Cells Traffic to Injured Maternal Myocardium and Undergo Cardiac Differentiation,” Circulation Research 110:82-93, 2012
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Comments

11 Responses to “Astounding: Your Baby Can Heal You!”
  1. Lydia says:

    When my chiropractor posted this, I was amazed! The more I learn about my body as it goes through this process called pregnancy, the more I’m astounded at the perfect setup it is. It not only is interesting, but it makes me feel more confident in my own body when I think about the fact that I have to GIVE BIRTH to a whole other human! The fact that pregnancy and childbirth is treated as an illness so often in today’s hospitals and clinics distracts from the fact that the body is fully equipped to go through this. I think women would have better experiences (mentally and physically) with pregnancy if they only knew how to THINK about their pregnancy. I encourage the girls I know who are pregnant with me at this time to “embrace the pain. Know that it is happening and remember that your body knows exactly what to do, and when and how to do it.” It’s drastically changed my outlook and attitude towards it.

  2. jlwile says:

    Thanks so much for sharing the post, Lydia, or I wouldn’t have learned about it!

  3. Claire says:

    That’s interesting. Perhaps that fits in with an article I read that stated women who had many children had a lot of antibodies resulting from a response during pregnancy and therefore were not the best choice to donate blood, as the recipient was more likely to have problems. I have read that a mother carries the fetus’ cells in her body. So your children become a part of you in more ways than one.

  4. Dawn says:

    Amazing! It made me think of I Timothy 2:15. Now it makes sense!

  5. JR says:

    Wow. I’m impressed with these study findings!

    I also found a study that suggested that mothers who experience moderate to severe morning sickness often had children with higher IQ’s compared to mothers who experienced little to no morning sickness.
    I guess my months-long, 5x daily loss of lunch was for a greater good after all! :)

  6. jlwile says:

    JR, I think you are referring to this study. It does have an interesting result. I look forward to the results of follow-up studies.

  7. ABarton says:

    JR, I read what you said about IQ and I remembered a post on FB about being a math person vs. non math people and It explained that your IQ may deffinately be affected by your genes but more often then not it is simlply hard work and proper brain stimulation, i.e. : excersising your computing capablilites. So basically what I am trying to say is. Genes might affect your IQ but you are can increase your IQ through application and hard work.

    Wow Mr. Wile this post is really interesting. Praise God for he has made all things beautiful in his time!

  8. K says:

    This is quite interesting. I’m an adult with a severe food allergy and I have read of women getting over their food allergies after a pregnancy. I wonder if this could explain why that happens sometimes.

  9. jlwile says:

    That’s very possible, K.

  10. Anthea says:

    Hello Dr Wile

    I just sent an evaluation of your new book as an email. I am posting here because my first attempt to contact you was bounced back as a failed message.

    PS This post on pregnancy was a great dinner time topic of conversation.

  11. jlwile says:

    Thanks, Anthea. I did get your second attempt. I appreciate you resending it! I am glad that the post was interesting for you and your family.

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