The Pregnancy Problem on the Island

Celebok October 11, 2009 User blog:Celebok

I mentioned I'd be posting my thoughts about some of the remaining mysteries of LOST in the upcoming weeks leading up to the Season 6 premiere, and I figured I'd start with the pregnancy problem on the Island. As you know, for some reason, women who get pregnant on the Island end up dying during their second trimester, and no one knows why. This issue played a large role during Season 3, and it was revealed to be the reason the Others brought Juliet to the Island. It also explained some mysteries from the first two seasons, such as the fact that Ethan kidnapped Claire in order to use her as their control case to research the problem, and possibly that the Others kidnapped various survivors of Flight 815, especially children, in order to keep their community thriving. But the mystery remains as to why pregnant women die on the Island, and when it started happening.

Here are some of the things we do know:

  • Women's reproductive organs degenerate, as seen in the scans that Richard Alpert showed Juliet when they first met.
  • Despite this, women are able to become pregnant, but die in their second trimester.
  • The problem doesn't affect men on the Island, since their sperm count is increased to about five times normal.
  • Juliet's research uncovered that the problem occurs at conception, but she was never able to prove that theory, due to being unallowed to leave the Island.
  • If Juliet is correct, any woman who conceives on the Island and remains on the Island for the next 100 days will die.
  • The only truly known cases of deaths related to this fertility problem are Others. We don't know if the issue affects people other than Others, even though Juliet seems to believe it affects anybody on the Island.
  • Sun conceived on the Island and left and successfully gave birth off the Island.
  • Claire arrived on the Island eight months pregnant and successfully gave birth on the Island.
  • Danielle arrived on the Island seven months pregnant and successfully gave birth on the Island.
  • Amy (most likely) conceived on the Island in October 1976 and successfully gave birth on the Island in July 1977, suggesting that the pregnancy problem either didn't exist until sometime after July 1977, or that DI members are not affected.

Other observations

Juliet said that Claire's blood samples that Ethan took were consistent with those of the previous pregnant women who had died, and Ethan had to administer injections to keep Claire alive. However, Juliet was still working undercover for Ben at the time that she told this story, so we don't know how much of it is true. If it is true, then it means that the pregnancy issue is not limited to the Others.

Richard, during his conversation with Locke, suggests that it's mainly Ben who is insistent on solving the fertility issue; i.e. it was Ben's idea to recruit Juliet to help them solve it (even though Richard was the one who actually recruited Juliet in Miami), but it's not an important issue for the Others in general. Apparently, Richard must know that the inability to give birth will not cause the Others to die off as a people. Possibly this is because Jacob will continue to bring people to the Island, but that's just speculation.

This suggests that Ben's main motive for solving the pregnancy crisis is probably personal. I don't think we have enough information at this point to figure out why, but I did come up with a couple of related theories about it a while back (sometime between Seasons 3 and 4). One was that the pregnancy problem is caused by a rare type of virus which attacks the female reproductive system, and this virus is what caused Ben's mother to die giving birth to him. Ben then carried the virus and brought it to the Island. The other part of my theory was that Annie, Ben's childhood sweetheart on the Island, was the first victim of the pregnancy problem, and she died while pregnant with Ben's child. This would definitely explain why it's such a personal issue for Ben, and could also possibly explain why Ben kidnapped Alex to raise her as his own.

Why does it happen?

The bottom line about this pregnancy mystery is that we still don't know why it happens or when it started happening. My theory above that it's caused by a virus that Ben carried is one possibility. However, it now seems unlikely, since Amy successfully gave birth to Ethan after Ben had been on the Island for a few years. With that, these are the theories I'm leaning more towards:

  • It was caused by the Incident -- the combination of the electromagnetism being released and Jughead exploding. (assuming WHH)
  • It was caused by the Purge -- the residual poisonous gasses.
  • It was and continues to be caused by something else that I don't fully understand at this point, like Jacob or his nemesis or some other higher form of consciousness on the Island.

Of the three, I do, in fact, think that the third option is the most likely, because the first two seem a bit too simple as explanations. But you never know with this show. Either way, I do hope that we find out the answer at some point in the final season.

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