Intermarriage 'major risk factor' in Peterborough child deaths Watch
Almost a third of children of Asian ethnicity who died in a six-year period in Peterborough had parents related other than by marriage, according to a report.Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Child Death Overview Panel said the deaths of 36 children from the ethnic group were reported between 2008 and 2014.In 30% of cases the parents were related.The deaths were due to congenital abnormalities.'Cultural condition'In 2013 it was revealed the number of babies born with birth defects in Bradford was nearly double the national average, largely because of marriages between first cousins in the Pakistani community.Last month it was announced that school pupils in Slough were being taught about the importance of genetic testing in response to babies being born with rare birth defects.Fifteen babies under the age of one died in Slough between 2012 and 2013, including seven from "chromosomal, genetic, and congenital" anomalies.It is believed the deaths were linked to intermarriage in some communities.The age range of the children who died in Peterborough was not specified.One GP in Peterborough, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC she had been threatened with a knife and patients also tried to bribe her to keep concerns about inter-family relations to herself.Henrietta Ewart, Peterborough's former director of public health, said the issue in the area seems to originate from north Pakistan.She said: "There is a cultural tradition which is known as watta satta. The strongest driver for that marriage is around maintaining land holdings and other property within an extended family group. The argument is that it helps family cohesion."Often, where the marriages are arranged and a bridal groom is coming in from the villages, it's possible that even if the law was changed to make cousin marriages illegal, because of the documentation issues it might not always be possible to identify and prevent.""A legal approach would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut," she added.