DOCTORS working with immigrant communities in Sydney's western suburbs hope human genome mapping will address high rates of infant death and birth defects in children born to first cousins.
A study at Auburn Hospital found almost 20 per cent of pregnant women admitted to the maternity ward in one year were married to their first or second cousins.
The research found babies were three times more likely to be born with birth defects and six times more likely to die in the womb or in infancy than babies in the general population.
But despite the alarming findings, published in 2001, there has been little research in the field since.
Westmead Children's Hospital geneticist David Sillence said the issue of marriage between blood relatives was extremely sensitive in communities in which it was practised, including Lebanese, Turkish, Iraqi, Iranian and Pakistani. Gene test push for married cousins, by Erin O'Dwyer, May 28, 2006
Similarly, 55% of all married people in Britain of Pakistani origin are wed to their first or second cousins. Why is cousin marriage so common among Muslim immigrants? It's traditional in many countries from Morocco into parts of India. One old-fashioned reason is that it lessens sibling rivalry over things like inheritances. If you force your daughter to marry your brother's son, her first cousin, then you and your brother will share grandchildren in common.
But immigration provides a new reason. If you are an immigrant in a nice English-speaking, making your daughter to marry her cousin back in the Old Country generates a new visa for your extended family. ,
So, it's important to note that when the "family reunification" justification for immigration is trotted out that, when it comes to Muslim immigrants, their families are often "unified" through inbreeding to an extent that we find creepy.