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Janet Jackson addresses rumors she had a secret baby in the ‘80s

The "Rhythm Nation" singer opened up about speculation that she welcomed a baby with then-husband James DeBarge.
Janet Jackson opens up about her life in the upcoming Lifetime and A&E documentary "Janet."
Janet Jackson opens up about her life in the upcoming Lifetime and A&E documentary "Janet."Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Janet Jackson is setting the record straight on long-standing rumors that she welcomed a baby in the ‘80s with her then-husband, James DeBarge.  

“Back in the day they were saying that I had a child and I kept it a secret,” Jackson, 55, recalled in a teaser for the upcoming Lifetime and A&E documentary “Janet.” 

“I could never keep a child away from James,” she said. “How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that, it’s not right.”

The five-time Grammy winner was 18 when she married soul singer DeBarge in 1984. Their marriage was annulled one year later. Jackson has alleged their split was caused by his frequent drug use.

Janet Jackson and husband James DeBarge
Singer Janet Jackson posed with then-husband James DeBarge in 1985. Ron Galella / Getty Images

Jackson said people first began speculating that she was pregnant on the set of the TV show “Fame," in 1984. The actor had started taking oral contraceptives, which at the time were linked with increases in appetite and fluid retention due to higher levels of the hormones estrogen and progestin.

“A lot of the kids thought I was pregnant ‘cause I had gained weight and I had started taking birth control pills,” Jackson explained. “And back then, you could pick up weight taking them, and that’s what happened to me.”

Jackson’s “Fame” co-star, Debbie Allen, who appears in the two-part documentary which premieres Friday at 8 p.m. ET, remembers it well.

“These were rumors that were just flying around, honey, like hash in a diner,” Allen revealed. “Where as the baby? Nobody saw a baby. I mean, she was there with us all day, every day. Where was the baby?”

The gossip resurfaced in 2016, when DeBarge appeared on the WE tv series “Growing up Hip Hop."

“I was under the impression that there was no baby, and I wanted to believe it’s not true,” he said. “But it is.”

Jackson eventually welcomed a child in 2017, son Eissa, whom she shares with her estranged husband, Wissam Al Mana. 

The little boy celebrated his 5th birthday earlier this month. 

“You’re growing up so fast,” Jackson wrote on Instagram. “Such an intelligent beautiful boy. Wishing you a life full of magical moments.”