Sunday, 21 March 2010

Rise in marriages between cousins 'putting children at risk of birth defects'

A rise in the number of marriages between cousins in Britain has prompted calls for a crackdown on the practice amid warnings it is putting children's health at risk.
Figures show up to 75 per cent of British Pakistanis in some areas are married to first cousins.
In a speech to be made next week, obtained by The Times, leading family lawyer, Baroness Leech, will warn that such marriages can be a barrier to the integration of minority communities and increases the risk of birth defects in children.
She is also expected to call for testing for genetic defects when marriages between family members are arranged and for a register of people carrying genetic diseases to be set up in order for two carriers not to be introduced.
She said such a scheme could be possible in Bradford, which has the UK's highest population of Pakistanis. 
Up to three-quarters of Pakistanis in Bradford are married to their first cousins.
The trend is also evident in Birmingham, where figures show that one in ten of all children born to first cousins died in childhood or suffered from a serious genetic disorder.
 British Pakistanis, half of whom marry a first cousin, are 13 times more likely to produce children with genetic disorders than the general population, according to Government-sponsored research.

Although British Pakistanis account for three per cent of the births in this country, they are responsible for 33 per cent of the 15 to 20,000 children born each year with genetic defects.
Full story HERE

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