Parents go to great lengths to ensure the health and well-being of their developing offspring. The favor, however, may not always be returned.
Dramatic research has shown that during pregnancy, cells of the fetus often migrate through the placenta, taking up residence in many areas of the mother's body, where their influence may benefit or undermine maternal health.
The presence of fetal cells in maternal tissue is known as fetal microchimerism. The term alludes to the chimeras of ancient Greek myth--composite creatures built from different animal parts, like the goat-lion-serpent depicted in an Etruscan bronze sculpture.