; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Virgin Birth Phenomenon

Every year around the Christmas season, the question of 'virgin pregnancy' arises. Recent studies suggest that a significant number of females are claiming the phenomenon occurred to them. Are these simply cases of naivety, possible mass delusion...or is there something behind this? Let's look outside the box for a second. Could this be evidence of non-terrestrial impregnation? I know it sounds improbable...or is it? If you read Kathleen Marden's The Alien Abduction Files: The Most Startling Cases of Human Alien Contact Ever Reported and Bret Oldham's Children Of The Greys the question may not seem impossible. Here are two recent articles on the 'virgin birth phenomenon':

Over the next week, the nativity story of the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus will be told countless times.

However, while the phenomenon of virgin pregnancies has been widely studied in the animal kingdom – normally through asexual reproduction – among humans it has received little attention.

As a result, a team of US researchers have looked at virgin births among women since the mid-1990s.

Published in the BMJ, researchers based at the The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill identified a number of pregnancies where the women said they had never had sex.

They analysed data on 7,870 women who were interviewed confidentiality and numerous times over 14 years between adolescence and adulthood as part of the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Researchers were looking for the incidence of pregnancy before the onset of sexual intercourse, as well as characteristics shared by these virgin mothers.

Participants reported their sexual history, including sexual intercourse, use of reproductive technology and pregnancy history. This information was used to classify women by their virginity status at the time of their pregnancy.

Of the study participants, 0.5% consistently affirmed their status as virgins yet somehow fell pregnant.

Looking at characteristics of the virgin mothers, findings showed they were around a third more likely to have signed a chastity pledge than non-virgins.

Their parents were also less likely to have spoken with them about sex and birth control.

While the authors conceded that the study was problematic because it relies on self-reporting on sensitive topics, they concluded that "around 0.5% of women affirmed their status as virgins and did not use assisted reproductive technology, yet reported virgin births".

"Reporting dates of pregnancy and sexual initiation consistent with virgin pregnancy was associated with cultural mores highly valuing virginity, specifically signing chastity pledges, and with parental endorsement of items indicative of lower levels of communication about sex and birth control," the authors concluded. - IBTimes


America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'

The results of a long-term study of reproductive health, published in the British Medical Journal, have revealed that one in two hundred US women claim to have given birth without ever having had sexual intercourse.

The findings were based on a study of 7,870 women and girls aged 15 to 28, as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which ran from 1995 to 2009.

The Christmas issue of the BMJ reports that, of the women who took part in the study, 45 (0.5%) reported at least one virgin pregnancy, "unrelated to the use of assisted reproductive technology."

In short, they claimed to have conceived - yet had not had vaginal intercourse or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

The BMJ article notes that virgin births, or parthenogenesis (from the Greek parthenos for virgin and genesis for birth), can occur in non-humans as a consequence of "asexual reproduction, where growth and development of the embryo occurs without fertilization".

The article notes that as well as the story of the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary, parthenogenesis often appears in popular culture, "including the Spielberg blockbuster Jurassic Park3 and the 2008 Dr Who episode “Partners in Crime.”

For the study of putative virgin pregnancies, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed data from the thousands of teenage girls and young women who took part in the long-running study.

They found that the girls who had become pregnant, despite claiming they had never had sex at the time of conception, shared some common characteristics.

Thirty-one per cent of the girls had signed a so-called 'chastity pledge', whereby they vow - usually for religious reasons - not to have sex. Fifteen per cent of non-virgins who became pregnant also said they had signed such pledges.

The 45 self-described virgins who reported having become pregnant and the 36 who gave birth were also more likely than non-virgins to say their parents never or rarely talked to them about sex and birth control.

About 28 per cent of the "virgin" mothers' parents (who were also interviewed) indicated they didn't have enough knowledge to discuss sex and contraception with their daughters, compared to 5 percent of the parents of girls who became pregnant and said they had had intercourse.

The authors of the study, entitled "Like a virgin (mother)", - say that such scientifically impossible claims show researchers must take care in interpreting self-reported behavior. Fallible memory, beliefs and wishes can cause people to err in what they tell scientists. - Independent

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