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LA birth of Cruz-Bardem son shrouded in secrecy

Baby news comes hours after Spanish actor's third Oscar nomination

Spanish cinema's golden couple Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem have become parents for the first time - to a baby boy - sources close to the family have confirmed to EL PAÍS.

For their part, though, the couple are refusing to release any information about the newborn- not its sex, weight, nor date of birth- as they consider the event a private matter. "We are not Angelina nor Brad Pitt. We value our privacy," Bardem told US TV days before the birth.

The baby was born in the utmost privacy at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. They had originally planned for their child to be born at Madrid's Ruber International clinic, but finally opted for the US. The hospital was recommended by their friend, actress Salma Hayek, who gave birth to her daughter Valentina there two years ago.

Bardem, 41, who on Tuesday found out he had been nominated for a best actor Oscar for his role in Biutiful, was present at the birth, having organized his diary so as not to miss the important moment. His friends said they suspected the news when the actor failed to answer any of their calls congratulating him on the nod.

Cruz, 37, has hardly been seen in public since traveling to the US over Christmas to await the birth of her baby. Doctors recommended she lead a quiet life, focusing solely on her pregnancy, in the weeks prior to the due date. She was last seen briefly on Saturday getting out of a car in Los Angeles after attending her baby shower party with celebrity friends such as actor Leonardo DiCaprio and his Israeli model partner Bar Rafaeli.

Secrecy has surrounded Cruz and Bardem's relationship since they first became an item while filming Woody Allen's romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona together three years ago. The couple long avoided being photographed next to each other in public, appearing together for the first time at last year's Goya Awards ceremony in Madrid.

The couple also married in secret last July, with only close relatives present at the Bahamas ceremony. They confirmed the news in a concise press statement.