General Health Topics Associated with Consanguinity; Genetic Disorders and Congenital Malformations; Benefits
Pp. 50-74 (25)
Lina Basel-Vanagaite, Gabrielle J. Halpern and Lutfi Jaber
In the main, the detrimental health effects associated with consanguinity are
caused by the expression of rare, recessive genes inherited from a common ancestor(s).
The closer the biological relationship between the parents, the greater is the probability
that their offspring will inherit identical copies of disease-causing recessive genes.
However, in spite of all the potential health problems associated with consanguineous
marriages, in the vast majority of the societies where these are common, it is generally
accepted that the advantages of consanguinity outweigh the disadvantages. The rate of
congenital malformations among the offspring of consanguineous marriages is
approximately 2.5 times higher than that among the offspring of unrelated parents. First
cousin consanguinity has been shown to be significantly associated with an increased
risk of congenital heart defects, congenital hydrocephalus and neural tube defects,
susceptibility to infectious diseases, underweight, and having an adverse effect on
cognitive performance in some consanguineous populations. Another disadvantage is
the high rate of hospitalization and utilization of the health care facilities in
consanguineous communities, causing a major financial burden, much of which could
be saved if the rate of consanguineous marriages were lower. However, in certain
situations consanguineous marriages can actually be advantageous. The culture of
consanguineous marriages and the genetics of protection against malaria may have coevolved
by fostering survival against malaria through better retention of protective
genes in the extended family, and also the circle of family members who can act as
successful tissue donors is significantly extended. There are also many social
Advantages, congenital malformations, consanguineous marriages,
disadvantages, recessive genes, socioeconomic.
The Raphael Recanati Genetic Institute, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Hospital, Petah Tikva, 49100, Israel.