According to Agin, a molecular geneticist at the University of Chicago (Junk Science
), a silent pandemic is causing untold damage to babies while they are in the womb. Toxic chemicals in the environment are assaulting developing fetuses, as are substances (such as alcohol and nicotine) ingested by pregnant women and capable of dramatically altering developmental pathways. According to Agin, the role of the intrauterine environment has largely been ignored by scientists who look to genes and a child's postbirth environment to explain behavior issues, mental illness and IQ. He demonstrates, too, that all the fuss about race and IQ is meaningless because the prenatal environment may have a huge role in determining intelligence. Agin is at his most powerful in the final chapter, in which he argues that without good prenatal care, poverty readily transforms into an inherited disease. Agin marshals the scientific data to build an impressive case for his perspective, particularly regarding developmental problems in American babies compared with those in the rest of the world—it is frightening and deserves widespread attention. (Nov.)
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"Agin marshals the scientific data to build an impressive case for his perspective, particularly regarding developmental problems in American babies compared with those in the rest of the world--it is frightening and deserves widespread attention."--Publishers Weekly
"Using interesting historical and contemporary examples, Dr. Agin strips away the fallacies of some of the most popular yet unsubstantiated notions regarding both the biological and environmental foundations of human behavior. At the same time, he provides the reader with an understanding of how the environment interacts with the genome from the very moment of conception to influence the developmental processes involved in this most complex structure in nature, the human brain." --Kim N. Dietrich, The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
"What particularly impresses me is that Dan Agin has achieved the very difficult task of interpreting children's environmental health research for the general reader in a scientifically balanced way. I recommend this book to anyone interested in how the environment affects the health of children." --Jonathan Grigg,, MD, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry
"Refreshingly entertaining, yet hard-hitting and scrupulously honest, this book is as informative as it is a wake-up call about the reckless and thoughtless damage we inflict upon ourselves. It asks whether the womb is a safe place for the human fetus. No, it is not. Is it all genes that make us into what we become? No, it is not. This book is a very convincing exposé of the role of toxins in pre-natal development. But it is more--an outstanding popular science book with a social conscience." --Gisela Kaplan, University of New England, Australia
"Brings together a wide array of material (all thoroughly referenced for the more technically interested reader) which combines to create a very complete picture of developmental and later-life effects of environmental exposures. It demonstrates the importance of changing the too commonly casual approach to fetal and child exposures." --Sally Ann Lederman, Columbia University
"Dan Agin's message is a welcome relief from the bombardment of claims of genetic causes of human behaviour that we have received over recent years from the media and some branches of science." --Lesley J. Rogers, University of New England, Australia; author of Sexing the Brain
"Solidly grounding his argument in the latest research, Agin demonstrates the importance of 'the first environment'--the nine months before birth that can affect the developing fetus in numerous ways that do not become evident till years later. And of particular significance for policy, he shows that the threats to fetal development are considerably greater for the poor, thus converting their social and economic conditions into biological effects with dire consequences for their long term health and cognitive abilities." --Bill Tucker, Rutgers University
Genes aren't destiny. That's the message conveyed by Dan Agin in his new book, More than Genes. Agin argues that the prenatal environment plays as large a role as the genome in shaping who we are and what we are able to achieve. Brain function and behavior are the two aspects of human development most at risk from aberrations of that environment. He reviews the sad history of lead's impact on intelligence and behavioral disorders, and what we have learned from the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He discusses the more contemporary threats such as endocrine disruptors, and the links between poverty and diminished intellectual potential as well. For those who still remain unaware of how our cavalier attitudes toward environmental pollution have harmed society, Agin's book should awaken their indignation at the forces that allowed it to happen. --Bernard Weiss, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
"It has become a cliché to say that our genes always interact with our environment to produce who we are. Dan Agin takes three giant steps beyond the cliché. First, he reveals the importance of the fetal environment.
Second, he actually traces the web of interactions for the general reader.
Third, he shows how easily the web is altered by environmental toxins, even in minute quantities. More than Genes is fascinating and frightening at the same time." --David Sloan Wilson, Binghamton University; author of Evolution for Everyone
"A provocative compilation of ideas substantiated by academic papers..." -- DOODY'S