Immaculate conception? Maybe.
Mary wasn't the only virgin mother, or at least that's what 45 out of 7,870 women claimed in a study for the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Researchers at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill followed 7,870 women over a 14-year period between adolescence and adulthood and found that 0.5% insisted they were virgins, even after they became pregnant. These women did not use In Vitro Fertilization or other tools of assisted reproductive technology.
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During the study, researchers interviewed the women and their families, asking questions about religion and sex education. They found that many of the pregnant virgins had signed chastity pledges: 31 percent of women who reported virgin births had signed pledges, whereas only 15 percent of non-virgins who reported pregnancy had signed them. Twenty-one percent of virgins who did not report pregnancy had signed chastity pledges.
Researchers also found that virgins who reported pregnancy were less likely to have talked about birth control and sex from their parents.
The BMJ pointed out, "Virgin births in non-humans generally occur by asexual reproduction, and have been documented in multiple animals including pit vipers, boa constrictors, sharks, and Komodo dragons, but among humans the incidence of virgin pregnancy has received little attention."
The science behind virgin births remains a mystery.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark