Press-Republican

FYI...

June 20, 2013

Is it really possible to not know you're pregnant until the birth?

Trish Staine had just finished running 10 miles while training for a half-marathon when she started going into labor. The mother of three said she hadn't gained any weight or felt any fetal movement in the months before and had no idea she was pregnant. Is it possible for a woman not to know she's pregnant before she starts giving birth?

Yes, but it's rare. It's not uncommon for a woman to have an unplanned pregnancy — that's the case for half of all pregnancies in the United States. Most pregnancies, regardless of planning, are detected in the first 20 weeks. Only a very small number of mothers make it to the labor stage without finding out they're expecting. It's hard to say just how many births we're talking about. A frequently cited study in the British Medical Journal found that surprise births happened in Berlin "about three times more often than triplets." The authors came up with an estimate of 1 in 300 to 600 pregnancies, but to be more conservative, since the probability of triplets in America is about 1 in 8,000, you could estimate that the probability of not detecting a pregnancy before labor is about 1 in 2,700.

The women most susceptible to surprises of this nature are those who have irregular periods, for they are less likely to notice the most obvious early indicator of pregnancy: suspension of the menstrual cycle. There's more than one reason a woman might not have her period for several consecutive months. She might be an underweight athlete or anorexic. Or she might suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome. Certain medications can suppress menstruation, too.

There are plenty of reasons why pregnancy may never cross a woman's mind. She might think she's too old to get pregnant. She might think she or her partner is infertile. She might have an overly strong faith in the effectiveness of birth control. Of course, she could also be in denial. A woman may not want a baby and therefore ignore the indicators that she's pregnant.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 27, 2014

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 26, 2014

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 25, 2014

  • An alternative diagnosis to ADHD: Schoolchildren need more time to move

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that in recent years, there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2011.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 23, 2014

  • Why it's basically impossible to delete those naked selfies you text

    If you're selling an old Android smartphone on an online auction site, you could be giving away rather more than you intend to, according to a recent investigation by anti-malware company Avast.

    July 21, 2014

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 18, 2014

  • Almost half of the world actually prefers instant coffee

    Americans' taste in coffee might be getting more high-end _with a growing fixation on perfectly roasted beans, pricier caffeinated concoctions, and artisan coffee brewers - but it turns out a surprisingly big part of the world is going in the opposite direction: toward instant coffee.

    July 17, 2014

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can plants hear? Study finds that vibrations prompt some to boost their defenses

    They have no specialized structure to perceive sound as we do, but a new study has found that plants can discern the sound of predators through tiny vibrations of their leaves - and beef up their defenses in response.

    July 12, 2014