Pregnant Women

ZENIT

Researchers clamor for federal funding to ‘harvest’ stem cells from unborn children.

MILAN, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org). - Mothers undergo permanent changes during pregnancy, in which they “inherit” some characteristics of the child they carry and, through the child, also receive some characteristics of the father.

This is but one of the surprising discoveries to be presented at the congress entitled “At the Dawn of Human Life,” organized by the Institute of Gynecology and Obstetrics of the Catholic University of Rome. The congress begins Sept. 6 in the Vatican, as part of the Jubilee of University Professors.

The child inherits half of his genetic patrimony from the mother. He also “hears” the outside world while in the womb, through the mother’s body, a fact which substantially conditions the unborn child’s life. Now, research indicates that the mother also undergoes long-term changes caused by the “person” of the child and, indirectly, also from her husband.

Professor Salvatore Mancuso, head of the gynecology institute, said: “We have proofs that beginning in the fifth week of gestation, in other words, when a woman realizes she is pregnant, an infinite number of messages pass from the embryo to the mother, through chemical substances like hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. Such information serves to adapt the mother’s organism to the presence of the new being.

“Moreover, it has also been discovered that the embryo sends stem cells that, thanks to the mother’s immune system tolerance, colonize the maternal medulla, and adhere to it. What is more, lymphocytes are born from here and remain with the woman for the rest of her life.”

Mancuso continued: “From the fifth week there is clearly a passing of cells, but messages begin at conception. Even during the first phase of cellular subdivision, when the embryo is moving in the fallopian tubes, there are transmissions through contact with tissues touched by the moving embryo.

“Later, after implantation in the uterus, the dialogue is more intense through the blood and cells, and chemical substances enter the mother’s bloodstream.

“Finally, the child’s stem cells pass to the mother in great quantity, both at the moment of birth, whether spontaneous or Caesarean, as well as at the time of abortion, whether spontaneous or voluntary. These cells are implanted in the mother’s medulla and produce lymphocytes, which have a common origin with the cells of the central nervous system; they have receptors for the neurotransmitters and can make messages pass that the maternal nervous system understands.”

He added, “An astonishing area of research is opening up. This is information of enormous importance on the first phases of life.”

When asked whether it was difficult to make rigid divisions of the phases of the embryo’s development, Mancuso said, “It is a grave error to make distinctions between the embryo and pre-embryo. It is such an initial phase - one cannot of course speak of a central nervous system - but the messages the embryo sends to the mother express manifestations that are proper to the human species. The instruments used are highly specialized chemical substances and cells, such as stem cells.

“It should be remembered that if communication was lacking, the maternal organ would reject the embryo. The dialogue makes possible the perfect acceptance of an organism that is 50% foreign to the mother’s genetic patrimony. In fact, these chemical substances, which express nutritional and metabolic needs of the embryo to the mother, cause an immune depression in her that facilitates the acceptance of the new being.”

When asked how long the fetus’ influence on the mother lasts, the professor answered: “Stem cells have been found in the mother even 30 years after the birth. It could be said, therefore, the pregnancy does not last the 40 canonical weeks, but the woman’s entire life.

“This should be cause for reflection also in regard to the hypothesis of ‘renting’ a womb: In this case, the mother who carries the embryo accepts a being whose genetic patrimony is 100% foreign, and who will ‘modify’ her for the rest of her life. We have no idea of the long-term consequences of such operations.

Regarding the transfer of the father’s characteristics to the mother via the unborn child, Mancuso said, “These are areas that are yet to be explored. Of course it calls for reflection on a new way of understanding pregnancy. Also, a very close tie is undoubtedly created between man and woman, because the child has 50% of the father’s genetic characteristics. Moreover, the hematopoietic [blood-producing] stem cells go to the medulla and produce offspring cells, lymphocytes and neurotransmitters with the capacity to dialogue with the maternal central nervous system. It is somewhat as though the ‘thoughts’ of the child pass to the mother, even many years after his birth.” ZE00090503

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

ZENIT “Pregnant Women “Inherit” Some Characteristics of Their Children.” Zenit, September, 2000.

ZENIT is an International News Agency based in Rome whose mission is to provide objective and professional coverage of events, documents and issues emanating from or concerning the Catholic Church for a worldwide audience, especially the media.

Copyright © 2000 Zenit


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