x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

A family affair

Researchers have found male DNA in the brain tissue of women who died in their 70s. The discovery could mean that the whole human family is more closely connected than previously thought.

It goes without saying that a mother never forgets her children. But scientists now have evidence that she physically carries around a part of them for the rest of her life. According to the Science News website, researchers have found male DNA in the brain tissue of women who died in their 70s. They believe the DNA comes from the women's male offspring and was somehow absorbed from the foetus before birth. It is probable that mothers also carry cells from their daughters, although female DNA is more difficult to identify.

Scientists have already found what they believe to be male children's DNA in other organs, including the heart, lungs and liver, so finding them in women's brains was not a complete surprise.

What is especially interesting, though, is that we all may carry around the cells of earlier generations. Because cells are known to transfer from mother to child in the womb, a baby also carries his or her grandmother's cells.

If the latest findings bear up to further scrutiny, they give scientific foundation to something people in the UAE and beyond have known for a very long time: that families have a special bond.

Considering the implications of this over generations, it could mean that the whole human family is more closely connected than previously thought. Then again, most of us didn't need scientists in lab coats to tell us what mothers, fathers and siblings the world over already know.