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Medical Are fetuses parasites?

  1. Mar 12, 2010 #1
    What are the requirements to be a parasite? There is an argument suggesting that fetuses are considered parasites, since they leech nutrients from their host, in this case, their mother.

    It feels like the obvious answer is that fetuses are not parasites, but I want to know why.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2010 #2

    berkeman

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    Welcome to the PF. Could you provide links to articles that take one position or the other? That would help us to not duplicate stuff that you already have read. What is the context of your question?
     
  4. Mar 12, 2010 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    abortion rhetoric aside, fetal physiology is fairly well studied. My text (http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookdescription.cws_home/697456/description#description [Broken]) is at work, however IIRC the fetus takes Calcium from the mother; usually this presents no problem but loss of bone in the mother is a possibility:

    http://www.endotext.org/pregnancy/pregnancy3/pregnancy3.htm [Broken]

    Maternal malnutrition results in a poorly developed fetus; the fetus does not cannibalize the mother.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Mar 12, 2010 #4

    Math Is Hard

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    *waiting patiently for a joke about teenagers*
     
  6. Mar 12, 2010 #5

    berkeman

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    :rofl:
     
  7. Mar 14, 2010 #6

    Pythagorean

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    It's definitely symbiotic in the long term in most cases.
     
  8. Mar 14, 2010 #7
    I think it is clear that fetuses are not parasites. This is not my field, so I can't be sure of the answer to the question, why. However, I suspect one reason relates to the issue of genetic reproduction. A true parasite is trying to pass on it's own genes and steals nutrients from a host, while a mother is trying to pass on its own genes. ... or, something like that, although I'm sure I'm not saying it correctly.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2010
  9. Mar 14, 2010 #8

    DaveC426913

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    *waiting patiently for a joke about teenagers*

    :rofl:


    While fetii may be functionally parasitic, I expect true parasitism disqualifies genetic kin from the equation, including only other species.

    Alternately, if you consider the Selfish Gene (that we are merely vehicles for our genes to get around in), parasitism does not apply, since the gene's goal is to propogate itself, meaning the relationahip definitely works in favour of the gene attempting to get itself replicated.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2010
  10. Mar 14, 2010 #9

    D H

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    Preliminary remarks:
    1. Where is Jimmy Snyder? This thread is begging for one of his remarks.
    2. If you have one, ask your pregnant wife whether fetuses are parasites. However, do watch out for flying objects and flying retorts when she blames you for ruining her body with your parasite.

    Do jokes about 20-something parasites count?
     
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