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Cousin Marriages May Be Taboo, but They’re Not Genetic Disasters

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In the western world, marriage between first cousins is labeled incest or inbreeding, and in the United States the practice is banned or restricted in 31 states. But a new essay argues that such laws are based on an outdated notion of the genetic risks involved in cousins marrying and reproducing. [T]hose laws "seem ill-advised" and "should be repealed," a geneticist and medical historian write…. "Neither the scientific nor social assumptions that informed them are any longer defensible" [Scientific American]. First cousins share about an eighth of their genes, and are therefore more likely to receive two copies of some recessive gene that poses health problems. Scientists had assumed that the children of first cousins would therefore be more likely to be born with birth defects. But coauthor Hamish Spencer writes that the risk of congenital defects is about 2 per cent higher than average for babies born to first-cousin marriages – with the infant mortality about 4.4 per cent higher – which is on a par with the risk to babies born to women over 40. "Women over the age of 40 have a similar risk of having children with birth defects and no one is suggesting they should be prevented from reproducing," said Professor Spencer [The Independent].

The editorial, published in the journal Public Library of Science Biology, focuses on the laws that restrict cousin marriages (China, Taiwan, and North and South Korea also ban the practice) and the stigma that is attached to such unions, especially in the United States. "Unlike the situation in Britain and much of Europe, cousin marriage in the U.S. was associated not with the aristocracy and upper middle class but with much easier targets: immigrants and the rural poor," they write [Wired News].

However, the authors note that the low rate that they cite for birth defects from cousin marriages is based on populations where the practice is rare; if cousins in such places marry, their offspring are likely to look outside the family for mates and will therefore bring new genes into the bloodline. Birth defects may be more likely in places where cousin marriages are commonplace, but the studies of this topic remain difficult and controversial. In February 2008, British Environment Minister Phil Woolas sparked a row in the United Kingdom when he attributed the high rate of birth defects in the Pakistani community to the practice of marriage between first cousins, the commentators said. Earlier studies estimated that between 55 per cent [and] 59 per cent of marriages continue to be between first cousins in Pakistan [CBC News].

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2008/12/29/cousin-marriages-may-be-taboo-but-theyre-not-genetic-disasters/

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Colombia
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Would never breed a German Shepard dog with a first cousin, those that do trying to highlight some characteristic for a show dog get a bunch of unhealthy pups, and those that appear to be healthy are idiots. Would even go as far as to ship my females to Germany for breeding, checking the lines of the father, get some very healthy and super intelligent pups that way.

So why marry a first cousin when you can marry a foreigner with the side benefit of dealing with the USCIS? Kind of miss dealing with the USCIS.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Colombia
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I have a cousin who had a long term relationship with her first cousin and even had a daughter together. Fortunately, the little girl is normal as can be but I still think it's gross to even have sex with a cousin. I mean, you're a hair away from being brother and sister, gross!

Diana


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If one can abort a baby then creating a genetic disaster should be fine too.


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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Colombia
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Yeah still wouldn't do it. Having a slightly increased chance at concentrating bad mutations into my offspring is not my idea of being fruitful.


Wishing you ten-fold that which you wish upon all others.

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Filed: Country: England
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no, just no... ewww.... :blink:


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I don't know why so many believe that if first cousins or a brother and sister have a kid, it'll come out with tentacles and multiple eyes. That's simply not true. As long as there aren't generations of inbreeding, the chance of a genetic disaster is very slim. Sometimes even years of inbreeding don't cause the supposed "mutated freaks." Look at the UK's royal family. They're all related in some way, and yes, I know some of them look and act a bit odd, but none have three legs and a hump. :P

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I don't know why so many believe that if first cousins or a brother and sister have a kid, it'll come out with tentacles and multiple eyes. That's simply not true. As long as there aren't generations of inbreeding, the chance of a genetic disaster is very slim. Sometimes even years of inbreeding don't cause the supposed "mutated freaks." Look at the UK's royal family. They're all related in some way, and yes, I know some of them look and act a bit odd, but none have three legs and a hump. :P

I dunno.... you actually SEEN the Queen nekkid?


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I don't know why so many believe that if first cousins or a brother and sister have a kid, it'll come out with tentacles and multiple eyes. That's simply not true. As long as there aren't generations of inbreeding, the chance of a genetic disaster is very slim. Sometimes even years of inbreeding don't cause the supposed "mutated freaks." Look at the UK's royal family. They're all related in some way, and yes, I know some of them look and act a bit odd, but none have three legs and a hump. :P

I dunno.... you actually SEEN the Queen nekkid?

No, but I don't want to see any 82 year-old naked. :P

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Filed: Lift. Cond. (apr) Country: Egypt
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Would never breed a German Shepard dog with a first cousin, those that do trying to highlight some characteristic for a show dog get a bunch of unhealthy pups, and those that appear to be healthy are idiots. Would even go as far as to ship my females to Germany for breeding, checking the lines of the father, get some very healthy and super intelligent pups that way.

So why marry a first cousin when you can marry a foreigner with the side benefit of dealing with the USCIS? Kind of miss dealing with the USCIS.

:thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs:


Don't just open your mouth and prove yourself a fool....put it in writing.

It gets harder the more you know. Because the more you find out, the uglier everything seems.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Colombia
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Heck in science we backcross offspring mice with parent mice at times due to genetic traits we're looking to amplify... but that's mice.

Sure- go ahead and get it on with your first cuz if it makes you feel happy. Genetic concentration effects can occur with more frequency in offspring from 1st cousin marriages, but its really not at all guaranteed to occur.


Wishing you ten-fold that which you wish upon all others.

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Filed: Other Country: Canada
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Would never breed a German Shepard dog with a first cousin, those that do trying to highlight some characteristic for a show dog get a bunch of unhealthy pups, and those that appear to be healthy are idiots. Would even go as far as to ship my females to Germany for breeding, checking the lines of the father, get some very healthy and super intelligent pups that way.

So why marry a first cousin when you can marry a foreigner with the side benefit of dealing with the USCIS? Kind of miss dealing with the USCIS.

You do realize that nearly all purebred dogs -- including German Shepherds -- are inbred, right?

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