More Than Genes: What Science Can Tell Us About Toxic Chemicals, Development, and the Risk to Our…

Hardcover | November 16, 2009

byDan Agin

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We are all shaped by our genetic inheritance and by the environment we live in. Indeed, the argument about which of these two forces, nature or nurture, predominates has been raging for decades. But what about our very first environment--the prenatal world where we exist for nine monthsbetween conception and birth and where we are more vulnerable than at any other point in our lives? In More Than Genes, Dan Agin marshals new scientific evidence to argue that the fetal environment can be just as crucial as genetic hard-wiring or even later environment in determining our intelligence and behavior. Stress during pregnancy, for example, puts women at far greater risk of bearingchildren prone to anxiety disorders. Nutritional deprivation during early fetal development may elevate the risk of late onset schizophrenia. And exposure to a whole host of environmental toxins - methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, pesticides, ionizing radiation, and mostespecially lead - as well as maternal use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or cocaine can have impacts ranging from mild cognitive impairment to ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders. Agin argues as well that differences in IQ among racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups are farmore attributable to higher levels of stress and chemical toxicity in inner cities--which seep into the prenatal environment and compromise the health of the fetus--than to genetic inheritance. The good news is that the prenatal environment is malleable, and Agin suggests that if we can abandon thenaive idea of "immaculate gestation," we can begin to protect fetal development properly. Cogently argued, thoroughly researched, and accessibly written, More Than Genes challenges many long-held assumptions and represents a huge step forward in our understanding of the origins of human intelligence and behavior.

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We are all shaped by our genetic inheritance and by the environment we live in. Indeed, the argument about which of these two forces, nature or nurture, predominates has been raging for decades. But what about our very first environment--the prenatal world where we exist for nine monthsbetween conception and birth and where we are more...

Dan Agin is Emeritus Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago. The author of Junk Science: How Politicians, Corporations, and Other Hucksters Betray Us, he writes a column on science and politics for The Huffington Post.

other books by Dan Agin

Format:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:November 16, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195381505

ISBN - 13:9780195381504

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Table of Contents

Part I: Of Shaping and Destruction1. The Richness of Our Ignorance2. Pollution Babies3. From Once Cell to a Hundred Trillion4. The Fetal Brain5. Life in Utero: Shaping or DestructionPart II: The Forge of Circumstance6. The Endless Fetal Hangover7. Unborn Days and Sexuality8. Developmental Brain Disabilities9. Genes, the Womb, and Psychosis10. Much Ado about IQPart III: Misery for All Seasons11. Culture, Poverty, and Fetal Destruction12. Group Differences, Criminality, and the Damaged Fetus