A MUM died after contracting a rare form of dementia from her own baby.
Her son had inherited the condition from his father, caused by a mutant gene that makes the brain produce deformed toxic proteins that progressively destroy its cells.
The woman’s husband died from the disease two decades ago and now her son, 53, has fallen ill with the same condition.
But his wife, who genes were clear of the genetic mutation, also died from the disease, according to The Times.
The woman, who was in her seventies when she died, was diagnosed with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease before medics linked the condition with her son.
It wasn’t until her son’s diagnosis they realised she contracted the usually inherited condition when she was pregnant.
Doctors believe the woman almost certainly caught the disease from her baby through foetal cells carrying the same toxic proteins travelling through the placenta and into her body.
The toxins then lodged themselves into her brain and began destroying its cells.
Ausrine Areskeviciute, a researcher at the Danish Reference Centre for Prion Diseases in Copenhagen University Hospital, said: “We already know that when a woman is pregnant cells from the baby travel across the placenta and travel around her body, lodging in various organs.
“However, in this case the foetus carried the mutation for the misfolded proteins, and its cells may also have had misfolded proteins when they got into the mother’s body, triggering the process that led to her death years later.”
Her son is still alive, but as there are no treatments for the disease his prognosis isn’t known, Areskeviciute added.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare and fatal condition that affects the brain.
It causes brain damage that worsens rapidly over time, according to the NHS.
Symptoms include memory loss; loss of intellect; changes in personality; loss of balance and coordination; slurred speech; problems with vision and blindness; abnormal jerking movements and progressive loss of brain function and mobility.
Most people who have the disease die within a year of diagnosis.
It’s caused by abnormal proteins called prions, which accumulate at high levels and cause irreversible damage to the nerve cells in the brain.
The prions are infectious, but cannot be treated like normal bacteria.
They’re resistant to heat and radiation that normally kills bacteria as well as being resistant to antibiotics.
Sporadic CJD disease is the most common type of the condition, but is still incredibly rare and affects only one or two people in every million each year in the UK.
Most cases of sporadic CJD occur in adults aged between 45 and 75.
On average, symptoms develop between the ages of 60 and 65.
In 2014, there were 90 recorded deaths from sporadic CJD in the UK.
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