Friday, January 13, 2012

Fetus Actually Beneficial to Mother?

     An article on LifeSiteNews makes the claim that a fetus is not only not a parasite, but is actually helping to contribute to the health of the mother by exchanging cells with her.  Yes, you read that correctly - that unformed mass of tissue is actually providing the mother with beneficial cells which may stay with her for the rest of her life!  According to studies which have been going on for more than 30 years, there is a give-and-take process that happens in the placenta, where the mother shares her cells with the fetus, and the fetus shares its cells with the mother.  These fetal cells have been observed aiding the mother's immune system by increasing her autoimmune defenses.  Further, the child's stem cells also enter the mother's bloodstream, helping to regenerate many things, not the least of which are her heart, liver, and brain.  One study goes on to posit that that at the end of a pregnancy, 6% of the DNA in the mother's blood comes from her baby!
     This is just a brief synopsis of the article - the whole thing is worth reading.  Further, so are the comments; I usually look for the dissenting ones, so I know what the opposition is saying.  


  1. The phenomenon described in this nontechnical and highly biased article is called microchimerism and has not been documented extensively in humans. To date, the only extensive research into microchimerism has been performed in mice, which leads to zero conclusions about its function or even presence in humans. And if all the claims in this “article” are correct, a fetus still maintains a parasitic relationship with the pregnant person because it cannot survive without leeching off the host, and the host receives no appreciable benefit from the relationship (especially not any benefit that overrides the harmful effects of pregnancy)

    This is also not breaking news. Biologists have known about microchimerism for years; however, there is very little evidence to suggest that pregnancy is beneficial in humans. Additionally, there is some (but again, little) evidence that suggests that the microchimeric state is harmful to the pregnant person.

    Pregnancy is dangerous by its own right- almost half of all pregnant people in the U.S. experience maternal* morbidity. When you add in the exchange of cells between potentially incompatible organisms, the potential for harm to the pregnant person grows higher.

    This “article” is offensive on multiple levels: for one, it is a tool for the anti-choice movement to erase the experiences of pregnancy. “Oh look, some stray cells MIGHT find their way to the right organ and MIGHT help you ward off heart disease or cancer. Maybe. That totally makes up for nine months of gestation, labor, and childbirth, right?”

    It is also offensive in the way that all anti-choice propaganda is offensive: it fails to recognize that fetuses do not have special rights that allow them to hijack another person’s body. Until the anti-choice movement attempts to make living organ donation mandatory, they don’t have a leg to stand on.

    1. American,

      I am terribly sorry for having taken so long to get back to you. Things got rather busy all of a sudden. I'm not too sure what proper blogging courtesy is, but I hope you will not be terribly offended if I make a longer reply in the form of a post. We can continue to make a comment line from there, if you would like.

      Thank you for taking the time to make a comment, and I hope you have some more time to spend, as I do have some questions of my own.


  2. See letter reply addressing issues American brought up at: