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article imageStudy shows married cousins boost birth defects

By Tim Sandle     Jul 6, 2013 in Health
A new medical study indicates that marriage between blood relatives leads to a 2-fold increase in the risk of birth defects, such as heart and lung problems and Down syndrome.
The largest study into consanguineous marriage (marriage between blood relatives, of which the majority are between first and second cousins) shows that such partnerships can lead to a far higher incidences of birth defects, when compared to other partnerships.
The study, published in the medical journal Lancet, also showed that there is a similar increased risk of birth defects for mothers over the age of 34.
The researchers behind the study were from a project called Born in Bradford , which is tracking the health of 13,500 children born at the Bradford Royal Infirmary (U.K.) between 2007 and 2011.
They assessed a variety of maternal lifestyle and clinical factors for their influence on congenital anomalies, and found that closely related parents and mother’s age were the greatest risk factors.
Discussing the findings, one of the main researchers, Eamonn Sheridan, a clinical geneticist at the University of Leeds in the U.K., is quoted as saying: "It is important to note that the absolute increase in risk is small—from [2] percent to 6 percent—meaning that only a small minority of babies born to couples who are blood relatives or older mothers . . . will develop a congenital anomaly."
Over the course of history it has been estimated that over eight pecent of marriages have been between first and second cousins, including such notable figures as Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Edgar Allen Poe, and H.G. Wells, who each married their cousin.
More about Marriage, Cousins, Birth defects, Pregnancy
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