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“There are some women who have very irregular periods, often women who are very fit and exercise a lot. There are women who don’t have sickness during pregnancy. Some women _ particularly those who are overweight _ don’t recognize they have put on weight, or feel the baby moving,” O’Brien said.

Many cases involved women who refused to accept that they were pregnant and attempted to disguise it, particularly young women living at home.

“It’s not just that they hide the pregnancy from their parents, they often become in denial of the pregnancy,” he said.

“If you have a combination of any or all of those things, a pregnancy can go undetected, or the woman can be in denial of it if the implications to their life are so great,” said O’Brien, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist.

A study published in 2011 by Glasgow’s Victoria Infirmary said that denial of pregnancy was more common than expected, suggesting it occurred in around 1 in 2,500 births.

In a 2002 German survey of Berlin obstetric hospitals, researchers found that 40 percent of women who didn’t realize they were pregnant had seen doctors who also failed to spot the signs.