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Margie Profet

One of the early proponents of applying evolutionary thinking to medical topics, Margie Profet, was not seen for some years. She appeared to drop out of both the social and academic circles within which she once moved. You can read about her 'disappearance' at  Mike Martin's Weekly Scientist blog (11th May, 2009).

Although some feared the worst, it can be reported that Margie Profet has been found, reunited with her family and is very much alive. To read more, visit this Nature New Blog.

She will always be remembered for her work on pregnancy (morning) sickness. On this topic, she wrote two books for the general reader:


Protecting Your Baby-To-Be:
Preventing Birth Defects in the First Trimester.
Perseus Books (1995).


Pregnancy Sickness:
Using Your Body's Natural Defenses To Protect Your Baby-to-be.
Da Capo Press (1997)

Academic work by Margie Profet:

Profet, M. (1988), The Evolution of Pregnancy Sickness as Protection to the Embryo Against Pleistocene Teratogens, Evolutionary Theory 8: 177–190. (View article)

Profet, M. (1991), The Function of Allergy: Immunological Defense Against Toxins, The Quarterly Review of Biology 66 (1): 23–62. (Abstract)

Profet, M. (1992). Chapter 8: Pregnancy Sickness as Adaptation: A Deterrent to Maternal Ingestion of Teratogens. In Barkow, J. H., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. Oxford University Press. pp. 327–366. (View chapter)

Profet, M. (1993) Menstruation as a Defense Against Pathogens Transported by Sperm, The Quarterly Review of Biology 68 (3): 335–386. (Abstract)

Commentaries relating to Margie Profet's work:

Radical New View of Role of Menstruation, New York Times, 21st September, 1993.

"School Isn't My Kind of Thing" Time, 4th September, 1993.

A Curse No More People Magazine, 11th October 1993.

Margie Profet: Co-Evolution Omni, May, 1994.

Darwinian Medicine – It's A War Out There And Margie Profet, A Leading Theorist In A New Science, Thinks The Human Body Does Some Pretty Weird Things To Survive Seattle Times, 31st July, 1994.

Some References to Alternative Views:

On Pregnancy Sickness

Flaxman, S.M. & Sherman, P.W. (2000) Morning sickness: A mechanism for protecting mother and embryo. Quarterly Review of Biology 75 (2): 113-148.

Pike, I.L. (2000) The nutritional consequences of pregnancy sickness: a critique of a hypothesis. Human Nature 11(3): 207-232.

Forbes, S. (2002) Pregnancy sickness and embryo quality. Trends in Evolution & Ecology 17(3): 115-120.

Fessler, D.M.T. et al, (2002) Reproductive Immuno-suppression and Diet. Current Anthropology, 43: 19-61.

Flaxman, S.M. & Sherman, P.W. (2008) Morning sickness: adaptive cause or nonadaptive consequence of embryo viability American Naturalist, 172(1): 54-62.

On Menstruation

Strassmann, B.I. (1996) The evolution of endometrial cycles and menstruation. Quarterly Review of Biology 71 (2): 181-220.

Finn, C.A. (1998) Menstruation: A non-adaptive consequence of uterine evolution. Quarterly Review of Biology  73 (2): 163-173.

Strassmann, B.I. (1999) Energy economy in the evolution of menstruation. Evolutionary Anthropology  5 (5): 157-164.

Hall, R. (2004) An energetics-based approach to understanding the menstrual cycle and menopause. Human Nature 15 (1): 83-99.