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UW Professor’s Internationally Acclaimed Book Now Available in Second Edition

July 27, 2021

It has been 25 years since University of Wyoming Professor Peter Nathanielsz’s widely acclaimed book, “Life Before Birth: The Challenges of Fetal Development,” was first published.

The second edition of his book recently went live through Amazon as an e-book and is now available for purchase. The first edition, published in 1996, was translated into 14 languages. Nathanielsz is UW’s Distinguished Professor of Life Course Health Studies within the UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Department of Animal Science.

In “Life Before Birth,” Nathanielsz guides the reader through easily followed stories on the science of the miraculous and mysterious journey from conception to birth. In his first book, Nathanielsz explained to readers, in an understandable way, the stage of fetal life’s journey.

In the 25 years since the first edition, much more critical new knowledge has been obtained.

“Much has happened in the field of fetal development,” Nathanielsz says. “I think the book has appeal to a wide range of students in learning their way to many professions: pre-med, nursing, veterinary science, molecular biology, chemistry and others.”

The updated e-book has received good prepublication notices from around the world -- from general readers interested in the latest evidence-based nonfiction to the medical-related professions.

An example of the changes over the last 25 years is the knowledge of epigenetics -- the way the early environment acts on the growing fetus, to change the function of multiple organs and susceptibility to disease, Nathanielsz says. This is an “exciting new area of biology is explained in language that is easy to understand,” according to the book.

“Peter Nathanielsz seamlessly incorporates the latest research on fetal development into a wonderful, all-encompassing view of the challenges and responses of fetal life, taking the reader on a comprehensive tour of the placenta and fetal organs, with impressive color illustrations,” says Professor Dino Giussani for the book’s foreword message. He is from the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. “Few individuals have the international authority or are so fully equipped to write a book like ‘Life Before Birth.’ Peter’s passion for communication is stamped all over this triumphant second edition.”

This second edition includes new topics such as commonalities of programming mechanisms in maternal under- and over-nutrition; epigenetics; integration of fetal responses; 10 major principles of programming and programming-aging interactions; and putting knowledge about fetal development into practice.

Among the new technological features of the second edition are the electronic book’s color illustration, and navigation that is enabled to allow quick search and location.

“Bravo to Peter Nathanielsz. The book is at once readable by a lay audience, students of science, and practicing nurses and physicians, while Peter Nathanielsz’ quintessential wit and erudition lend his prose an engaging yet entertaining style,” according to a review from Dr. Elliott Krane of Stanford Children’s Health. “’Life Before Birth: The Challenges of Fetal Development’ is an important and unique book that covers the subject of pre-birth development like no other, and deserves a spot on the bookshelves of many.”

The second edition of “Life Before Birth: The Challenges of Fetal Development” is available on Amazon for $9.99. The book's web page,, can be cut and pasted into a browser, with several free stories and a photo gallery from the book's contents.

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