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Add Health Study: Like a virgin (mother)

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill observed the apparent occurrence of virgin pregnancy and birth. The research team of Amy H. Herring, Samantha M. Attard, Penny Gordon-Larsen, and Carolyn T. Halpern, with the assistance of Reverend William H. Joyner, analyzed self-reports of pregnancy and sexual initiation. They found that 36 young women who consistently reported having never had sexual intercourse also reported giving birth during the same period. Such “virgin births” were associated with signing chastity pledges and absent or poor parental communication about sex and birth control.

 

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill observed the apparent occurrence of virgin pregnancy and birth. The research team of Amy H. Herring, Samantha M. Attard, Penny Gordon-Larsen, and Carolyn T. Halpern, with the assistance of Reverend William H. Joyner, analyzed self-reports of pregnancy and sexual initiation. They found that 36 young women who consistently reported having never had sexual intercourse also reported giving birth during the same period. Such “virgin births” were associated with signing chastity pledges and absent or poor parental communication about sex and birth control.

Read the Reuters story here:  Claims of virgin births in U.S. near 1 percent: study (released on December 17, 2013 by Sharon Begley). 

Excerpt:  “Of those who said they became pregnant as virgins, 31 percent also said they had signed chastity pledges; 15 percent of nonvirgins who became pregnant said they had signed such pledges, in which a girl vows not to have sex until she marries.

The 45 self-described virgins who reported having become pregnant and the 36 who gave birth were also more likely than nonvirgins to say their parents never or rarely talked to them about sex and birth control. About 28 percent 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 ostensibly chaste mothers were also less likely to know how to use condoms, according to the report. UNC biostatistician Amy Herring and public health expert Carolyn Halpern led the group.”

Amy H. Herring is a Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of Biostatistics in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.  Samantha M. Attard is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Population Center. Penny Gordon-Larsen is a Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and School of Medicine. William H. Joyner is a reverend at The Chapel of the Cross. Carolyn T. Halpern is a Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of Maternal and Child Health in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Scholarly source:  Herring AH, Attard SM, Gordon-Larsen P, Joyner WH, and Halpern CT. Like a virgin (mother): analysis of data from a longitudinal, US population representative sample survey. BMJ 2013;347. Article available online.