Researchers have concluded that the cultural practice of marriage between first cousins is a bigger factor than any other – outweighing the effects of deprivation in parts of Bradford, where the study was carried out. Marriage to a blood relative accounted for nearly a third (31%) of all birth defects in babies of Pakistani origin.
The risk of having a baby with birth defects – usually heart or nervous system problems which can sometimes be fatal – is still small, but it rises from 3% in the general Pakistani population to 6% among those married to blood relatives. The researchers also found a doubling of the risk in the babies of white British women who were over the age of 34. That increased risk, rising from 2% to 4%, is already known.
Every year there are about 90 more baby deaths than would be expected in the Pakistani community in England and Wales because of birth defects. But the issue is highly sensitive because marriage within families is an established cultural tradition.
For adults whose parents are first-cousins, the risk is triple that of people whose parents are unrelated, the researchers reported. And, mood disorder risk is also significantly higher among children of second-cousins, they said.
"The size of this association is significant, and understanding why children of 'related parents' are at an increased risk of psychoses and common mood disorders warrants further research," said study lead author Aideen Maguire. She is a lecturer with the Center for Public Health at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland.
The findings -- based on an analysis of nearly 364,000 people born in Northern Ireland between 1971 and 1986 -- may seem unremarkable at first glance. But fully 10 percent of people worldwide are born to parents who are first- or second-cousins, largely in Asia and eastern Africa.
Fewer than 1 percent of Western marriages fall into this category of what is known as "consanguineous marriage." Though marriage between blood relatives increases the risk of genetic defects in offspring, the practice is banned in only three nations: the United States, North Korea and China.
The study findings were published online April 4 in JAMA Psychiatry.
My mum and dad want me to marry my first cousin. I have seen their qualities, they are awful people. I am strongly against this, but ym parents are trying to use emotional pressure, particularly my dad who shouts and targets my mother as he knows if he gets to her it may impact my decisions. my father has attacked my mother once with a pan after hearing about a first cousin family marriage within the family.
Yo bro ive recently been engaged and it was arranged but look at the end of the day its your parents happiness and its not a cuzzy so dw bro youll be fine live for the next life and not this your wife will love you yo