Birth is the beginning for all of us; however, the intricacies of the where, when and how of birth are sometimes seen as solely of interest to mothers-to-be, their partners, midwives and obstetricians. The Future of Homo by Michel Odent shows how this should no longer be the case and how the practicalities of birth are pertinent to any and all who are concerned with our past, present and future. In 22 concise chapters, he leads us through a web of interactions – between mother and fetus, neocortex and primal brain, genes and environment, and host and microbiome. On his way, he equips us with new ways to consider these interactions – as a futurologist, an evolutionist, a linguist, an epigeneticist or ideally as an interdisciplinary thinker. Beginning with the ‘Primal Period’, Odent draws from the Primal Health Research Databank highlighting the fine balance of overestimating vs understating epidemiological correlative data. The book explores the overmedicalization of birth and its impact on our whole lives, from the molecules inside us to the large social groups we form. It is a multidisciplinary exploration – considering how the birth process interacts with the way we perceive the world. In his closing discussion of ageing, Odent illustrates the enduring effects of birth events, emphasizing how transformative his ideas could be, perhaps themselves shaping the future of Homo.
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Evie Rothwell; The Future of Homo by Michel Odent. Biochem (Lond) 17 August 2020; 42 (4): 67. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BIO20200054
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