The Loh Down On Science

How a woman's DNA changes when she has a baby will amaze you!

Can having a baby turn you into a mythological beast?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. 

Women have long swapped tales about changes in their bodies after pregnancy.  Now science is discovering that those changes could be the result of invasive DNA.

Rewind a few years to researchers studying cancer cells.  They found that DNA samples taken from different parts of the same woman’s body didn’t match.  Some even had male DNA!

Enter physician Linda Randolph of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  Her studies have shown that pregnant women regularly absorb random cells from their little bundles of joy—cells that contain DNA from the baby’s daddy.  Wherever those cells land, be it leg muscle or brain tissue, dad’s DNA is harmlessly integrated into mom’s genetic code. 

Because they are, genetically speaking, more than one person, these mommas have been dubbed "chimeras" after the mythological creatures of Greek lore.  Those beasts were said to be part lion, part snake [and part goat!]. 

I don’t care what you call us, as long as chocolate is involved.  Lots and lots of chocolate.  And thank you.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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