Longest Pregnancy

Wars make for long pregnancies


Beulah Hunter - more than 12 months pregnant  

Records for the longest pregnancy are difficult to validate, given the inexact science of establishing the day of conception. Wang Shi from Hunan Province, China claimed a 17-month pregnancy in 2017, but there was little documentary device to support her claim.

In 1945, Beulah Hunter of Los Angeles, California, gave birth after a pregnancy of 375 days. That’s 12 months and 10 days.

According to her doctor, Daniel Beltz, Ms. Hunter’s pregnancy was established during a medical visit on March 23rd, 1944. The baby seemed to stop growing at 3 months, and was feared dead. But Dr. Beltz noticed signs of life at 6 months, and the baby started growing again, and was delivered on Feb. 20, 1945.

At the time, many physicians surmised that Ms. Hunter had lost the first baby and then became pregnant a second time. When presented with this theory, Dr. Beltz delivered the following retort: “Nonsense!”

Given her wartime pregnancy, Ms. Hunter became something of a celebrity figure among women who gave birth 10-11 months after their husbands went off to war. In an era before DNA testing--and when divorce required proof of adultery--long-pregnancy babies were often a source of contention.

A case in point was Ruth Posner Young, who gave birth July 3rd, 1942--nearly 12 months after her husband left to fight in Italy. When he learned of the new baby, Young’s husband Jack sued for divorce. In court, Ms. Young's attorney cited Ms. Hunter's example of a documented 12-month pregnancy. However, Young didn’t help her case when she was quoted as saying “I have a way with men.” Young also showed a surprising lack of scientific knowledge when she said, “There have been 7-month babies, why not 12-month babies?” Unfortunately, the judge did not utter the obvious rejoinder, “Some people are 4-feet tall, so why not people who are 16-feet tall?”

The judge sided with Ms. Young.

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