British Medical Journal: UNC study finds numerous virgin births reported in US since mid-1990s

Dec 18, 2013

UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health issued an announcement about a new study by Carolina Population Center Faculty Fellows Amy Herring, Penny Gordon-Larsen, and Carolyn Tucker Halpern. The other authors are Samantha Attard, who is a graduate research assistant at the Carolina Population Center, and William Joyner.

This is an excerpt of the announcement:

The prestigious British Medical Journal has published a study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers that found numerous pregnancies reported by self-described virgins in The United States since the mid 1990s.

The researchers, led by a team from UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health, discovered 45 "virgin pregnancies" while analyzing data for a much larger study on adolescent health.

"Actually, we weren't looking for virgin births at all," said Amy Herring, PhD, professor of biostatistics at UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health and the study's lead author. "While analyzing data for a separate project that examined correlates of virginity in adulthood, we were surprised to discover that a number of these individuals who stated they were virgins also reported pregnancies.  Once we confirmed these were not programming errors, we became interested in understanding factors related to this type of response pattern."

The journal also issued a news release about the study: US researchers ponder modern day virgin births.

The full citation of the research paper is:

Herring, Amy H., Samantha M. Attard, Penny Gordon-Larsen, William H. Joyner, and Carolyn Tucker Halpern. 2013. Like a Virgin (Mother): Analysis of Data from a Longitudinal, US Population Representative Sample Survey. British Medical Journal. 347:f7102. http://dx.doi.org.10.1136/bmj.f7102.

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