Book Review: Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul | Science News

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Book Review: Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul

Review by Bruce Bower

By
9:41am, October 22, 2010

Gestation isn’t destiny, but a person’s physical and emotional future do start to form before birth. In her up-close look at the first nine months, Paul deftly intersperses a scientific tour of how fetal environments influence later health and well-being with personal glimpses of her second pregnancy.

A picture emerges of scientists seeking prenatal insights that have the potential to improve babies’ lives — but also to freak out expectant parents. In that vein, Paul, a journalist, candidly describes her own science-fueled fears that eating raw fish and getting too stressed during pregnancy will harm her unborn child.

Early in Paul’s pregnancy, she talks to David Barker, a physician who about 20 years ago noted a link between low birth weight and heart dis

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