This week's "Time" cover story suggests that our nine months of gestation constitute the most consequential period of our lives, permanently influencing the wiring of the brain and the functioning of organs such as the heart, liver and pancreas.
Writer Annie Murphy Paul says that our time spent as fetuses might be more impactful than any of us have ever considered. "The nutrition you received in the womb; the pollutants, drugs and infections you were exposed to during gestation; your mother's health and state of mind while she was pregnant with you -- all these factors shaped you as a baby and continue to affect you to this day," she writes.
She introduces readers to a field known as "fetal origins." Scientists are exploring the possibility that intrauterine conditions influence not only our physical health (heart disease, obesity, even future cancer) but also our intelligence, temperament -- even our sanity.
Fascinating stuff ... but is this just one more thing for expectant moms to worry about?