Immunological diseases in pregnancy
SAN FRANCISCO — An unfortunate legacy of pregnancy seems to leave women more vulnerable than men to dangerous and disabling autoimmune disorders, including diabetes and multiple sclerosis, scientists report.
In a symposium concerning the self-destructive illnesses-held here earlier this month during the annual meeting of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science-researchers from four major medical centers offered evidence that bearing children can "seed" a woman's body with cells left over from the fetus. These leftover cells circulate for years in the woman's body, apparently triggering many of the so-called autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the cells and organs.
The presence of the remnant fetal cells could explain why there is such a large difference in the incidence of immune disorders between the sexes. They seem to trigger autoimmunity because half of the genes in the fetal cells are "foreign, " contributed by the father.
"Almost all of these diseases are more common in women-by about 75%, " said Dr. Noel Rose, a specialist in autoimmunity from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. A few of these disorders, especially diabetes and multiple sclerosis, can be fatal. "So it is not a minor problem" in terms of public health, Rose said.
A discovery that may help resolve the mystery is that "pregnancy is an act of mini-gene transfer, " Dr. J. Lee Nelson said.
Half of the genes in the fetal cells "are genes you get that aren't your own, " she said. So during pregnancy, women "are exposed to cells from the child, and these can engraft [in her body] and persist indefinitely. Ten, 20 or 30 years later you can still find cells from the babies" in a woman's bloodstream.
For example, she said, studies found that women with the skin disease scleroderma had significantly higher levels of fetal cells circulating in their blood decades after pregnancy than mothers who were unaffected by the disease.
Nelson, from the University of Washington in Seattle, was careful to point out that this association of leftover fetal cells with scleroderma does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Still, such research may soon lead to an explanation for why the autoimmune diseases strike women much more often than men.
According to Rose, the male-to-female ratio for autoimmune diseases is essentially equal during childhood and youth. But later, after sexual maturity, the statistics show such disorders occurring more commonly in women.
For example, "thyroiditis is about equal if it occurs before puberty, " he added. "But the women begin to pull ahead later" as they live through their reproductive years.
So, in essence, Rose said, the leftovers from pregnancy seem to account for part of the discrepancy between males and females, but not for all of the difference.
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About five months back I reckon I posted about some health concerns I was having. They seemed specifically pre-menstrual related. The issues, however, have persisted. It seems that the issues become worse around my cycle, but that they persist for the whole month. I have had what more or less feels like an ongoing case of the flu since about the New Year.
I have had three blood tests done and reviewed by two different doctors: an MD and an ND. The only abnormality was that on one of the blood test occasions I was a bit low on Magnesium, for which I received a shot
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