Researchers looking at women's brains found DNA from male fetuses can make its way into the mother's brain.
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons ) BY STEVEN SPARKMAN ANCHOR CHRISTIAN BRYANT Some women literally have men on the brain. A new study shows that having a son can actually alter a woman’s brain — even before the crying and diaper changing begins. Here’s HLN . “Women who have given birth to a boy or any woman who has a big brother may have male DNA in their brain. A new study says that it gets transferred in the womb.” Scientists already knew fetal DNA gets passed to the mother during pregnancy, but this is the first time it’s been found in a human brain. Not only that, they found male DNA might actually alter the brain in beneficial ways. “Researchers say that the presence of male DNA in the woman’s brain makes them less likely to get Alzheimer’s. We wonder if it also means they refuse to ask for directions.” ( via CBC ) The researchers caution their study isn’t conclusive, but say it makes sense male DNA could have a protective effect, since men get Alzheimer’s less frequently than women. Fox News reports this isn’t the only study that shows a potential health impact. “In a study of breast cancer, ... Women with male DNA had a lower rate of the disease than those without. But – a colon cancer study showed the opposite...” The researchers guess DNA from girls also finds its way into mom, but it’s harder to test for. In fact, KTVK reports if you weren’t the firstborn, you probably got some leftover DNA yourself. “The doctors are speculating that even siblings could pick up some DNA in the womb from previous brothers and sisters. “That’s crazy.” A writer for Salon says findings like these aren’t just prompting a rethink about pregnancy and health, they’re also helping show the public how messy the whole world of DNA really is. “If one individual can have ‘immigrant’ DNA intermingled in his or her cells, the notion of DNA as a unique person identifier is destabilized. … Similarly, the designation of certain DNA as male or female is highlighted as problematic in findings like these.” One thing seems certain: visiting DNA can make itself at home for life. The researchers found male DNA in the brain of a 94-year-old woman.