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Unmasking is less common in highly heterozygous populations, so according to Bittles and Black, as cousin marriage declines, there should be corresponding increases in human health at a population level.
The bottom line is that it is often safe to have children with your cousin, but doctors do recommend genetic counseling for prospective first cousin parents.
Lyle’s sister Melanie says she was initially disgusted and still thinks it’s wrong.“It was just a bit of a kick in the guts really,” she says.
In much of the world, consanguineous marriage between cousins is very common.
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The objections are ostensibly based on the risk of genetic problems. In 2005, Owen Dyer reported in that “A Labour MP has called for a public debate on the genetic risks of marriages between first cousins in Britain’s Pakistani community, after reports of an unusually high rate of autosomal recessive disorders among children near her constituency.
Ann Cryer, MP for Keighley in West Yorkshire, said on the BBC television programme : ‘We have to stop this tradition of first cousin marriages.’”The genetic risks in question are related to something called unmasking.
Nevertheless, British authorities determined that despite the increased risk, most children of cousin marriage are healthy. For the reasons discussed above, beyond just dangerous recessive alleles, the odds of a child of first cousins inheriting two copies of the same allele—any allele, whether recessive or not—is elevated.
And at least one doctor noted that “it was counter productive to single out a culture and that such an approach risked alienating the Pakistani community.” She added: “‘We know that the risk of Down’s syndrome increases with advancing maternal age, but we don’t see [urge] mothers to have children younger.’”A. Populations with fewer consanguineous marriages have higher heterozygosity, meaning individuals carry two different alleles for a given gene.
I am 40 years old and my cousin's daughter is 36 years old.