Medicine: Prodigious Pregnancy

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Dr. Daniel Beltz swore it was true. So did Mrs. Beulah Hunter, 25. And Baby Penny Diana did have a knowing look about her. But other doctors at Los Angeles' Methodist Hospital found it incredible that Mrs. Hunter had been pregnant 375 days (instead of the normal 280) before her baby was born there last week; 375 days would be the longest pregnancy on record, topping the runner-up by about 58 days.

The evidence as presented by Dr. Beltz: a laboratory test indicated pregnancy last March 24. The date of Mrs. Hunter's last menstrual period was Feb. 10. Everything proceeded as usual for three months. Then there was "apparent cessation of growth," until at six months Mrs. Hunter felt life for the first time. (Normal time for this: 16th to 18th week.) Fetal heartbeat was first detected in September. (Normal time for this would have been July.)

But, asked the skeptics, if gestation went on so long, why did Penny Diana weigh only 6 lb. 15 oz.?

Replied Dr. Beltz: "Some of the doctors . . . laugh. But I just show them the record." To suggestions that Mrs. Hunter may have had a miscarriage and second pregnancy, he replied: "Quite impossible."