redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
For Christians around the world, this time of the year centers around the story of a virgin birth, but new research appearing in the holiday edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reports that as many as one out of every 200 babies born in the US were delivered by women claiming never to have had sex.
In the study, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill interviewed 7,870 females between the ages of 15 and 28, according to Reuters reporter Sharon Begley. Out of 5,340 pregnancies reported in the group, 45 (0.8 percent) occurred in women who reportedly conceived without the assistance of intercourse or assisted reproductive technology.
“The study participants who claimed they were pregnant virgins were more likely than not to have taken a chastity pledge, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the incidence of virgin births increased during the week just before Christmas,” noted Rebecca Savastio of the Guardian Liberty Voice. “The same participants were more likely to have had an upbringing where sex was not discussed in the household.”
In fact, Begley said that 31 percent of the so-called pregnant virgins reported having signed chastity pledges, while just 15 percent of non-virgin pregnant women had taken such vows of abstinence. Furthermore, 28 percent of the parents of these self-proclaimed virgin mothers said that they lacked sufficient knowledge to discuss sex and contraception with their daughters, while just five percent of non-virgin mothers reported likewise.
While the authors noted that self-reporting of delicate issues such as this are subject to a degree of responder bias and/or potential misclassification, they said 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,” they added.
The self-identified virgins tended to be younger than admitted non-virgins when they gave birth, with a median age of 19.3 years for the former and 21.7 years for the latter. The researchers noted that, while perceived importance of religion was linked to virginity, no such association was discovered for virgin pregnancies.
“Each year, the BMJ Christmas edition publishes untraditional science papers,” Begley added. “In addition to the report on virgin pregnancies, the latest BMJ includes papers on whether there is a local baby boom nine months after home sports teams triumph (only a small one, but statistically significant) and whether an apple a day would keep the British doctor away (yes, saving about 8,500 lives in the United Kingdom each year).”