This edition of NeoReviews departs from our more usual presentation of clinical issues to focus on two important topics in modern biology that should be of special interest to people involved in neonatal and perinatal medicine. Peter Nathanielsz presents the concept of “fetal programming,” and Shunping Wang and John Gearhart discuss the topic of “pluripotential stem cells.” Both subjects have been the focus of considerable publicity in the lay press and have prompted worldwide increases in research interest and research support among basic and clinical scientists.

Fetal programming is not a new concept. Konrad Lorenz introduced many of us to behavioral programming of newborn animals, changes in environmental temperature determine the gender of turtle offspring, and radiation exposure of the fetus and newborn lead to adult cancers. More recently, David Barker has provided several epidemiologic examples from the United Kingdom and other countries that indicate that an environmentally imposed slowing...

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