MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Can a unborn childs DNA be changed by having intercourse w/a different man

Date: Fri Oct 19 10:39:50 2007
Posted By: Sanjida Rangwala, Post-doc, University of Pennsylvania
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1192739034.Gb

No - an unborn child's DNA cannot be changed from intercourse with a different man. 

The unborn child's DNA is a combination of DNA from
the egg (mother's) and the sperm (father's). Immediately upon fertilization
(entry of of the sperm into the egg), there is a cascade of events that prevent
any subsequent sperm from that same ejaculation from entering the egg (barriers
to polyspermy). These are almost always successful - and when they fail, the
fertilized egg is generally not viable and dies soon afterwards. Therefore, only
one sperm from one man can possibly contribute to the unborn child's genetic


In fact, by the time the newly pregnant woman has had intercourse with a
different man, days later, the fertilized egg will have already undergone
several cell divisions. Each cell of the developing embryo is a clone of the
cells before it, containing DNA that is identical to the DNA from the original

Additional sperm added to the uterus will have no more effect on the developing
embryo than adding sperm to the surface of a post-natal baby or a grown human. 
 The sperm will not be able to get into the cells and cannot possibly have an
effect on the DNA of the baby. 

Hope this helps!

Sanjida Rangwala, PhD
University of Pennsylvania

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