cousin marriages: They can cause a litany of genetic illnesses and they’re a key factor in the deaths of two children a week in Britain

Cousin marriages: They can cause a litany of genetic illnesses and they’re a key factor in the deaths of two children a week in Britain. By Sue Reid.

[In Bradford’s] British-Pakistani community, … around 60 per cent of mothers are married to their cousins, according to a major academic study. …

Relationships described as ‘consanguineous’ are those between couples who are at least second cousins or more closely related. The practice has been legal in Britain for more than 400 years, but is considered one of society’s last taboos.

In British Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, marriage between cousins is designed to strengthen the family and keep wealth intact.

But there are massive health risks involved for the children of such couples. And when they are tragically born with disabilities, it is taxpayers who are left to pick up the huge costs of their NHS treatment, which can run into millions over a lifetime. …

According to a report for the BBC’s Newsnight, British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have children with genetic disorders than the general population. …

In Birmingham, around one in ten children from first cousin marriages either dies in infancy or develops a serious life-long disability caused by genetic ailments, according to health officials in the city, where half the mothers of Pakistani origin are married to a close relative.

Meanwhile, a research document by the NHS-funded Enhanced Genetic Services Project reveals that in Birmingham in 2009-2010, the combined infant stillbirth and death rate ‘definitely or probably’ due to genetic disorders inherited from Pakistani cousin parents was 38 times higher than that among white European babies in the city.

The report — one of the most thorough into this health and social problem — says: ‘Almost a third of the affected children die before five years of age.

Most of the survivors suffer chronic disability, and they are cared for by their families, posing tremendous emotional and financial strain.’

Up in Bradford, where teenager Hiba Maroof lives, doctors and nurses have told me paediatric wards look after numerous children who are unable to speak, and are fed through tubes. …

Yet despite the dangers — and the huge cost to the NHS — according to the BBC, it is estimated that 55 per cent of couples of Pakistani heritage in the UK are in cousin marriages.

Inbreeding among the new voters from Pakistan — who could have foreseen that? Not Tony Blair, who wanted to rub our noses in “diversity”.

hat-tip byrmol