Baby Immunizes Mother
Most of us are familiar with the body's response to foreign tissue. Transplant patients must be carefully matched and then patients still must be given powerful drugs to prevent destruction of the transplanted tissue. Our bodies' immune system identifies tissue that's not its own and then tries to destroy that tissue.
As we have learned more about the immune system, doctors began asking themselves why a pregnant mother's body doesn't reject the foreign tissue of the baby growing inside her. The answer to this mystery is not fully understood, but research has suggested some answers.
From conception, the unborn child is a genetically unique individual. Researchers think that the most important protection the unborn child has is the trophoblast. This tissue, known as the caul, seals the growing infant from its mother. However, the trophoblast itself develops from the same cells as the infant. So why doesn't the mother's immune system attack? It appears that under normal conditions the trophoblast is a special set of cells that the body cannot identify as foreign. In addition, the trophoblast makes cells that encourage the mother's immune system to protect it. Scientists now believe that this amazing feature may actually be provided by the father's genetic information.
In effect, the baby, with the help of the father, immunizes the mother's system so that it doesn't reject the baby! So, even before birth, the mother nurtures and the father protects the child.