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Thursday, 19 December 2013

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

The Independent 

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.”

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