I am quite sure that there is this blood-placental barrier between the mother and the baby so that nothing (except a type of antibody) can pass through it.

But I remember reading somewhere that when a pregnant woman suffers an organ damage, fetus would send stem cells to the damage organ to help repair it.

Anything to support that?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Lots of hormones, nutritive molecules etc pass the blood-placental barrier. $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Apr 19, 2012 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ while this is true, it is also possible that the child's cells, which circulate for years after the baby is born, can also cause autoimmune disorders. its not a panacea, but on the hand nothing goes to waste in biology either. If you haven't already heard the radiolab podcast on this, i highly recommend it. radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2012/apr/30/fetal-consequences $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    May 21, 2012 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


Fetal RNA - mRNA and microRNA - has been detected in maternal blood as shown in this report. Here's a second report showing how fetus gives back to repair the maternal myocardium - fetal cells traffic to an injured maternal myocardium and undergo cardiac differentiation.

  • $\begingroup$ The second link is broken :(( $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2020 at 18:43

I heard that as well and was skeptical at first, but apparently there IS science to support it- http://mblogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2011/11/21/helpful-mouse-fetuses-naturally-send-stem-cells-to-mom-to-fix-her-damaged-heart/ Officially found with mice, but it supports how some women that suffered damages while pregnant are sometimes found with their children's cells still in their body, in the formerly damaged organs, many years after birth.

  • $\begingroup$ Just to add: I recently discovered that the first published account of "feto-maternal trafficking" was as early as 1893! ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16620961 $\endgroup$
    – arboviral
    Feb 21, 2018 at 16:26

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