The Dawn
February 29, 2008 Friday Safar 21, 1429

THIS is apropos of the letter, ‘Issue of cousin marriages’ (Feb 20). While it is true that cousin marriages slightly increase chances of children being born with genetic defects, in Pakistan most people are the products of decades of cousin marriages.If a child’s great grandparents, as well as grandparents, were first cousins, it significantly increases the chances of that child having more defects than one whose forebears were not first cousins.I know many families in which children are either totally deaf or totally nearsighted, and they were shocked when the doctors told them that inbreeding was to blame. For this reason, cousin marriages are banned in 26 states in the US, while most Hindu sects do not allow marriages between first cousins. This proves that even three thousand years ago people realised that marriage among near relatives was harmful.