A woman has died from a rare form of dementia, decades after it is suspected that she has contracted her own baby's illness during her pregnancy.
Her husband died two decades ago from the sporadic disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob, but her own genes appeared to be free of the responsible mutation, reports the Daily Mail.
The unidentified woman from Denmark, however, died of the same crippling disease as her late husband when she was in the seventies.
Her son, whose identity is also withheld, but is known to be 53 and a father himself, is now exhibiting symptoms & # 39; of sporadic CJD.
Doctors now believe that the son inherited the mutated gene responsible for the disease from his father before returning it to his mother in the womb.
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Cells of the fetus containing the toxic proteins are assumed to have traveled through the placenta in its bloodstream before they are absorbed into the brain.
The fatal condition causes irreversible brain damage caused by abnormal proteins called prions and which gradually destroy brain cells.
The rare case was discovered by a team of doctors at the Danish reference center for prion diseases in the University Hospital of Copenhagen.
The woman was diagnosed with sporadic CJD before the disorder was linked to her deceased husband or husband.
CJD occurs because of abnormal proteins called prions and which cause nerve cell damage.
Prions can occur spontaneously, be inherited or transferred to infected surgical equipment.
There is no medicine.
The treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and making patients comfortable through painkillers and antidepressants.
Ausrine Areskeviciute, one of the doctors who came across the case, told The Times that it is a very sad story. is.
She said: "We already know that when a woman is pregnant, cells of the baby travel through the placenta and move around her body, stay in different organs.
"However, in this case, the fetus carried the mutation for the misfolded proteins, and its cells may also have misfolded proteins when they entered the mother's body."
Mrs Areskeviciute added that she might have started the process years later that led to her death.
The case of CJD, which is considered a form of dementia, was published in the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology.
CJD, of which there are four main types, is a prion disease, which derives its name from "protein" and "contagious".
It is defined by proteins in the nervous system that take on an unusual form, which then spreads in a domino-like effect to cause lesions in the brain.
Approximately 85 percent of cases occur randomly, while 10-15 percent are inherited. CJD is taken over in less than one percent of the incidents.
Gecko cows disease is also a prion disorder, which occurs when a person eats meat from cattle that has been affected by a similar disease.
Sporadic form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob only affects one in a million people a year in Great Britain, according to NHS figures.
This comes after research released earlier this year, suggesting that prion diseases can be spread during operations via poorly cleaned surgical equipment.
What is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, fatal condition that causes irreversible brain damage.
Symptoms, which deteriorate rapidly over time, include:
Loss of intellect and memory
Loss of balance and coordination
Vision problems and blindness
Abnormal jerky movements
Loss of mobility
Most patients die within a year of the onset of symptoms, usually as a result of an infection caused by immobility.