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Foetus cells can damage mothers

CELLS PASSING between a pregnant woman and her foetus may act as the trigger for severe illnesses in later life.

US scientists have found that people with auto-immune diseases - where the body's immune defences attack its own tissues - are also likely to have the cells of another person circulating in the bloodstream.

They found that men suffering from auto-immunity possess cells from their mothers, and women with auto-immune diseases have been found to have cells from their children.

Foetal cells can survive in a woman for as long as 27 years after pregnancy, causing a condition known as microchimerism, the mixing of two sets of cells. Women with auto-immune diseases have an unusually high level of microchimerism.