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A study seeking answers for the high rates of deaths and congenital abnormalities in  babies of the Pakistani community have revealed that
marriage between first cousins doubles the risk of children being born with birth defects.

The study  in the Asian community by the University of Bradford found that the high level of marriage between blood relatives within the Pakistani community accounts for nearly a third of birth defects in babies of Pakistani origin, a study shows.

The research found that up to six out of 100 babies born to parents in the city who are blood relations have birth defects, compared with three in 100 of those who have not inter-married.

Professor Neil Small from the University of Bradford, who co-led the research, said: “This is the first study that has been able to explore all causes of congenital anomaly in a population where there are sufficient numbers in both consanguineous [related by blood] and non-consanguineous groups to come to reliable conclusions.

Cousin marriage

“Clear and accessible information on these small but significant avoidable risks should be widely disseminated to local communities and be included as part of antenatal counselling and in the planning of healthcare services.”