International Journal of Urologic History

Bullet Babies: The Repeating Nature of the Medical Hoax

Harry Herr
First Published: Jan. 15, 2022
DOI: 10.53101/IJUH.1.2.1152202
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Incredible tales of medical hoaxes associated with virgin births have been recounted through history. Some reports exist of wartime gunshot testicular injuries that caused pregnancy in a second bullet victim. This paper sought to identify the sources and circumstances of such tales and how similar legends appear to be perpetuated in medical historical lore.


Medical journals, contemporary newspaper accounts, and archives of secondary lay-press magazines and periodicals.


The first known episode of a pregnancy conceived via bullet wound occurred in the American Civil War. A woman claimed to become pregnant from being shot by a bullet that had passed through the scrotum of a Civil War soldier. In reality, the tale had been fabricated by a doctor who wanted to tease his colleagues over their boastful surgical triumphs. A second such ‘bullet baby’ was reported in 1999 during the Bosnian conflict. The two episodes, despite their lack of medical credulity, were perpetuated in the medical press by reputable authorities.


History sometimes offers a storyline that may be so fantastical that even medical authorities may either disregard its impossibility or unknowingly prolong its life.

Editor in Chief: John L. Phillips, MD
Journal Design: Akhil A. Saji, MD
DOI: 10.53101
US ISSN: 2769-2183