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Epigenetics, the study of how experiences, environments, and exposures alter gene expression, is a vibrant new area of postgenomic life sciences research. Epigenetics research situates the maternal body as a central site of epigenetic programming and transmission, and as a significant locus of medical and public health intervention. As an epigenetic vector, the maternal body is at once a background element, a medium for the fetus. Yet it is also a ‘critical’ developmental context in which environmental exposures are amplified, cues are transmitted, and genes are programmed. Reflection on epigenetics-based biomedical and public health interventions recommended by leading scientists suggests a need for sensitivity to how certain bodies or spaces become intensive targets of intervention when conceptualized as amplifying vectors of risk within the explanatory landscape of epigenetics.

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