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Claire was able to give birth on the Island because she had conceived her child off the Island. However, no women who was impregnated on the Island could complete the term / give birth, and all died.

Why? What is the significance of this? If he Island is supposed to be a place where "your problems get fixed (Rose's cancer, Locke's paralysis)", why wouldn't the natural process of child birth be purposefully impeded?

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3 Answers

The Island somehow strengthens the immune system of people on it, and provides some other healing capabilities. The issue with pregnancy, which I think Juliet explained, was that the amped up immune system mistook pregnancy for a disease. The immune system would interfere with normal pregnancy, resulting in a miscarriage. People who got pregnant off-Island would not have those complications, and by the time the Island's effects kicked in, they would give birth.

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But why doesn't the immune system see Claire's pregnancy as a disease like the other women? What difference does it make where the child is conceived? –  Chanelle Ractliffe Aug 18 '12 at 23:26
    
@ChanelleRactliffe The show never goes into such specific detail, sorry. –  Keen Aug 18 '12 at 23:36
    
@ChanelleRactliffe That's what they were trying to figure out in the show too. They were conducting research to solve this problem. –  Tony Apr 2 '13 at 19:56
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Well they were already dead / in heaven. I guess you can't create new life in death.

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This is just a theory of what The Island actually is. If you can expand this beyond a single sentence, I'm sure it will actually make some sense. –  TylerShads Aug 20 '12 at 14:25
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Ehm... wasn't this the answer at the ending of the series? But yeah; my answer includes some disappointment about the ending of Lost; so I guess the downvote is well deserved ;) –  klyonrad Aug 20 '12 at 19:14
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No, the answer at the end of the series was that it was all real. Only the alternate-reality scenes from season 6 took place after they all died. –  Stephen Collings Aug 20 '12 at 21:37
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It was never directly addressed on the show. However, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have hinted on the podcast that perhaps the detonation of Jughead during the Incident had some effect on pregnant women on the island. Hence, we see why Ethan was conceived and born there without problems, while many others died in the middle of the term.

In the epilogue "The New Man in Charge" during the part in the Dharma factory where they watch the orientation video about the Hydra, Pierre Chang says that the polar bears working at the Orchid station may experience pregnancy issues. This suggests that perhaps the island power source itself (a part of which formed the power behind the Orchid station) caused pregnancy issues, perhaps at will, perhaps randomly. Maybe this was intensified by the detonation of Jughead? We may never know exactly.

One must not forget that Jin and Sun conceived on the island, and Sun gave birth off the island. For that, and the fact that the creators have stated it clearly, they were not dead the whole time, this rumor must end.

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