Consanguineous marriage in clinical genetics is defined as a marriage between two related individuals. The individuals come from close kin or are second cousins exhibiting inbreeding coefficient higher or equal to 0. 0156. Consanguinity is more prevalent amongst the world population residing in North Africa, West Asia, and Middle East, and among these communities’ emigrants who are currently residing in Australia, Europe, and North America. The increased public awareness programs on genetic and congenital disorders prevention in offspring has made various couples to think about reproduction and marriage.
This is especially in communities that are highly consanguineous. Among these people, there has always been a lack of, or very little education concerning the effects of consanguineous marriages to the offspring. Rather, one may say that these people do not take into account what might happen if they get into such marriages. These communities are in pursuit of counseling on consanguinity. Providers of primary health care are faced with numerous challenges especially when they have to provide answers to consanguineous couples regarding their offspring anticipated health risks.
Thus, it is important if health care providers are trained on areas such as consanguinity premarital and preconception counseling. Bittles (33) argues that the widespread form of consanguineous marriage globally is contracted between first cousins, those that are closely related to the parents of the marrying cousins, of whom the parents may be brothers and/or sisters. One eighth of these couples’ genes are inherited from the ancestor that is common amongst them. He also points out that national populations can be categorized into four main groups.
The first group involves individuals whose consanguineous marriage accounts for approximately 1% of Unions, whilst the second category accounts for 1% to 10%, the third category is 20% to 50% whilst the final category involves individuals whose consanguinity level is unknown. Bittles (76) also points out that, regardless of the prevailing legislation, consanguineous marriage will decline in future as a result of the decline in family sizes. Today, many people have resorted to having smaller families with a few children, while some have resorted to staying single by choice.
However, there will be no consistency in terms of decline across populations. The decline will be experienced amongst populations in the urban areas, amongst couples who have high levels of education, and the future generation marriages because of the focus that they lay on issues other than building a family. As the size of the family decreases, double uncle-niece and first cousin, will be extremely difficult to organize within the conventional norms of couple’s age distinctions.
Similarly, there will be less emphasis for an individual to marry within the set of consanguineous union pattern as a result of increased socio-economic conditions and connections that will see off this practice slowly. In light of the above, there is limited understanding and knowledge regarding consanguinity marriage as a result of the limited number of research conducted. For instance, amongst the Western societies, the available information tends to concentrate on undesirable clinical outcomes of marriages between individuals from a close kin.
The detrimental outcome impacts a minority of individuals and families. Thus, for purposes of benefiting communities and families in which one or numerous damaging recessive genes are undergoing segregation, it is of great significance if investment is put towards developing a multidisciplinary survey to estimate the problem level. This should be followed by putting in place counseling programs that are community based. Consanguineous marriages are contracted in various populous countries in the world.
Additionally, in countries that are less developed, inherited disorders are lethal hence the need of life time cares under treatment facilities that are highly improved. Since consanguineous marriages increases inherited disorders, it is important for counseling programs to be put in place in order to benefit the whole of human society (Bittles, 102). According to Agarwal et al (741), in various parts of the globe, consanguineous marriages are prevalent.
Consanguineous marriage in some societies make up to 60% and is often between closer biological relatives or second cousins. Approximately 10% of the population around the world is as a result of consanguineous parentage. This is despite the marriage being linked with genetic disorders, congenital malformations, and increased levels of mortality amongst offspring’s as well as reduced fitness. Consanguinity propagation and origin is often characterized with its multiple benefits that are socio-economic.
Indisputably, union between relatives is essential because it provides the newly wedded couple with a sense of security. Similarly, the wife is treated well and wealth of the family always remains intact. Even though socioeconomic theory seems to be logical, it is extremely limited when it comes to explaining why people in non-consanguineous marriage societies stop from uniting with close biological links. The theory also fails in explaining first cousin marriages popularity amongst societies that practice consanguineous marriage.
As a result of the socio-economic theory failure, there has emerged alternative elucidation for consanguineous marriage. Currently, extremely inbreeding low levels have been correlated with fertility increase, thus increased levels of fitness for the society and individual family. Similarly, recessive genes selection is bigger by inbreeding. All in all, marriages that occur between close kin result in families exhibiting strong support (Agarwal et al, 747). Uksel et al (134) argue that the population structure is influenced by consanguineous marriages.
Accordingly, it is practiced in various parts of the globe. However, higher frequencies are experienced in the African, Asian, and Middle East populations. Consanguineous marriage is less dominant in the United States and Europe. According to studies conducted by the above authors, it is evident that despite the existence of various programs that aims at promoting child and mother health such as activities to lessen consanguineous marriages, it was extremely difficult to achieve the expected outcomes.
The study also indicated that among consanguineous marriages, genetic defects were very high. This is a clear indication for the need for further studies in this area. The studies need to focus on the negative outcomes and the reason for consanguineous marriages. Also, there is a need for public education programs to increase awareness regarding the consequences of consanguineous marriage. Accordingly, there is a need for more effort to lower consanguineous marriage connected social factors.
Hamamy et al (512) point out that there is a change in consanguinity rates, to be exact among cousin marriages. From one generation to the next, there is a sharp decline among first-cousin marriages. The changes are caused by various things such as female education increased rates, population influxes, increased family economic status, lower fertility rates, and increased levels of alertness regarding consanguineous marriage effects on children especially when their exists an inherited family recessive disease.
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