'Cousin Marriage' Doubles Gene Risk for Babies
[An Nahar] First cousins who marry run twice the risk of having a child with genetic abnormalities, according to the findings of a study in the English city of Bradford, published Friday in The Lancet.

The city, which has a high proportion of South Asian immigrants and their descendants among its population, served as a microcosm for examining the risk of blood relative couplings.

About 37 percent of marriages among people of Pak origin in the study involved first cousins, compared to less than one percent of "British unions", said the researchers.

University of Leeds investigator Eamonn Sheridan led a team that pored over data from the "Born in Bradford" study, which tracks the health of 13,500 babies born at the city's main hospital between 2007 and 2011.

Out of 11,396 babies for whom family details were known, 18 percent were the offspring of first-cousin unions, mainly among people of Pak heritage.

A total of 386 babies -- three percent -- were born with anomalies ranging from problems in the nervous, respiratory and digestive systems, to urinary and genital defects and cleft palates.

This Bradford rate was nearly twice the national average, said the study.

Other factors blamed for genetic flaws, such as alcohol consumption, smoking and social deprivation, can be ruled out, it said.

"Thirty-one percent of all anomalies in children of Pak origin could be attributed to consanguinity" or marriage between first cousins, said the study.
Posted by: Fred 2013-07-06