Why is dating your cousin wrong

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Cousin marriage is an important topic in anthropology and alliance theory.

Children of first-cousin marriages may have an increased risk of genetic disorders, particularly if their parents both carry a harmful recessive mutation, but this can only be estimated empirically, and those estimates are likely to be specific to particular populations in specific environments.

Although first-cousin marriages are legal in Britain, there have been calls to ban the practice because of reports that it has resulted in a higher-than-average incidence of birth defects in certain immigrant communities where it is common and culturally acceptable.

However, Professors Paul and Spencer said 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.

In some countries outside that region, it is uncommon but still legal.

In others, it is seen as incestuous and is legally prohibited: it is banned in China and Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, the Philippines and 24 of the 50 United States.

The risk of giving birth to babies with genetic defects as a result of marriages between first cousins is no greater than that run by women over 40 who become pregnant, according to two scientists who call for the taboo on first-cousin families to be lifted.

Women in their forties are not made to feel guilty about having babies and the same should apply to cousins who want to marry, said Professor Diane Paul of the University of Massachusetts in Boston and Professor Hamish Spencer of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

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This led to a gradual shift in concern from affinal unions, like those between a man and his deceased wife's sister, to consanguineous unions.

There is no scientific grounding for it." In the UK, the issue came to the fore when the MP Phil Woolas, now the Immigration minister, claimed earlier this year that first-cousin marriages within Asian communities in Britain resulted in an increasing number of children with health problems.

"A lot of arranged marriages are with first cousins, and that produces lots of genetic problems in terms of disability [in children]," Mr Woolas said.

people with common grandparents or people who share other fairly recent ancestors).

Opinions and practice vary widely across the world.

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