More BMJ Christmas specials: virgin births & strange nativities

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The BMJ published a paper based on a survey “to estimate the incidence of self report of pregnancy without sexual intercourse (virgin pregnancy) and factors related to such reporting, in a population representative group of US adolescents and young adults.”


Of 7870 eligible women, 5340 reported a pregnancy, of whom 45 (0.8% of pregnant women) reported a virgin pregnancy.

You can read the paper if you want more details.

Of all the news coverage this received – and it got a lot – a discerning look came from, ” Virgin Births’ Reveal Problems with Health Surveys.

The journal also publishedBarcelona baby boom: does sporting success affect birth rate?

Researchers found that births in a Catalan region of Spain increased by 16% nine months after the FC Barcelona team won three major football trophies in 2009.  They wrote:

“Our results show a transitory and significant 16% increase in births in February 2010, 9 months after FC Barcelona’s exciting victories in May 2009—far short of the 45% increase reported by the media. We may infer that—at least among the target population—the heightened euphoria following a victory can cultivate hedonic sensations that result in intimate celebrations, of which unplanned births may be a consequence. Other studies have shown, unsurprisingly, that rationality is not always a key factor in conception. One of the most intense emotions that can be experienced is the social component of belonging and the self assertion of a group (also known as you’ll never walk alone). Thus, the act of coming together can be interpreted on many levels when people feel motivated to share their euphoria with others.”


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