|In an attempt to soothe the wounds inflicted on my little sister’s wonder and enjoyment during her current pregnancy, I am presenting a counterpoint to my previous article titled “A Tale of Homicidal Infants: How You’re Slowly Killing Mommy”. It wouldn’t be science if we didn’t present both the good and bad aspects of fetal cells!|
Babies… they go by many descriptions: miracle of life, bundle of joy, little treasure, or the best decision of ‘my’ life. Heartwarming announcements of their arrival grace our Facebook pages and are immediately followed by pictures of smiley, gurgling, adorable blobs of miniature humans. Everywhere, Mothers proclaim loudly and enthusiastically that their newly-minted creations are purely angelic.
It turns out, science may back their claims!
Babies impart a miraculous power that could help heal horrendous wounds, protect organs from the ravages of disease, and even slow the hands of time to reduce the aging process and add years to Mommy’s life. These saintly powers are imparted to Mom by each of us upon the moment of placental attachment. Your life-saving measures will remain with her forevermore as you undertake a daily effort to ward off the illnesses and natural aging that threaten Mommy’s mortality.
I am not sure about you, but I am petitioning for sainthood with this new knowledge!
Your angelic superpower was delivered unto Mom as a baby. Tiny, single fetal cells were floated across the placental cord and directly into Mommy’s bloodstream. Once there, your crafty and caring fetal cells recognized that Mommy’s happiness and survival would directly (and indirectly) benefit you. So, they took immediate action to improve overall health and happiness.
Your fetal cells cared for Mommy’s mental happiness by surging into her brain and upregulating the “happy” inducing endorphin known as oxytocin. This is the same molecule that contributes to the infamous “glow” and utter contentment of pregnancy. Through your assistance, Mommy was high on her own chemicals. Since your fetal cells remain present for decades after birth, this “happiness” effect may help reduce Mommy’s stress during the turbulent periods of birth, the horrendous teenage rebellion years, and the loneliness of Empty Nest Syndrome.
Even when you are grown and acting as an independent college student, the fetal cells in her brain act to protect Mom’s mental health by shielding her from the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease. The source of most of these fetal cell miracles lies within the stem-like quality of the cells. Since your fetal cells are able to differentiate into many cell types, they can provide protection by transforming into neurons and providing a buffer against dementia.
The stem-like abilities of fetal cells also provide Mommy with physical protection; most noteworthy is the miraculous powers of fetal cell healing. This effect was particularly useful for the birth process. Levels of fetal cells were at an all-time high in Mom’s body just as she was forced through the extreme stress of birth. The process of healing was rapidly sped and assisted by stem cells, which produced collagen and differentiated into endothelial cells. Their impact on the healing process is evident many years afterward and can be observed by the high concentrations of fetal cells present at healed cesarean scar sites.
This healing power applies to other organs as well. Your cells may support Mommy as she strives to survive a traumatic injury such as the brutality of a car crash. At times like these, your fetal cells are known to patch hearts as they differentiate into smooth muscle and cardiomyocytes. Through a similar means of differentiation, your little blessings of fetal cells may also repair blunt force damage within the spleen and liver.
One day, you may save Mommy’s life.
Finally, one of the most impressive superpowers you impart may be considered the fountain of youth. Your fetal cells can roll back the ravishes of time by replenishing Mommy’s own stem cell niche! Her supply had been naturally depleted through the years and higher levels of fetal cells are shown to slow the aging process and go hand-in-hand with a longer lifespan. If given enough of this elixir, perhaps Mom could even reach immortality!
So, the next time your Mom is unhappy you forgot her birthday or Mother’s Day, just remind her that you have already provided the greatest gift of all…. fetal cells.
You’re welcome, Mom!
|This article is dedicated to my VERY pregnant sisters Christina Gillespie and Haley Graham. I love you (and your growing baby bumps) very much!|
About the Author
|Stephanie Graham is a native Georgian who has traveled the world for the sake of conservation. She has worked monitoring macaw populations in Costa Rica, conducting behavioral observations of elephants in South Africa, aided in assessment of Ethiopian wolves, and determined population dynamics of jaguars in Belize. She has a MSc from Auburn with a thesis focused on genetic structure / connectivity of black bears across the southeast. Stephanie is starting a PhD next semester ( firstname.lastname@example.org).|