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Acta Paediatr Suppl. 1993 Aug;82 Suppl 390:17-26.

Early child health in Lahore, Pakistan: II. Inbreeding.

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Department of Social and Preventive Paediatrics, King Edward Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan.


The prevalence of consanguineous marriages was studied in 940 families belonging to four different socio-economic groups in and around Lahore, Pakistan. The births occurring in these families from September 1984 to March 1987 were also investigated for birth defects. The overall prevalence of consanguineous marriages was 46%. The first cousin marriages were most common (67%), followed by the marriages between second cousins, 19%. The prevalence of consanguineous marriages was clearly associated with the socio-economic status of the study groups; 50% of the marriages was related in the periurban slum, 49% in the village, 44% in the urban slum and 31% in the upper middle class. The birth defects were also more prevalent in the poorer areas, being highest in the periurban slum (17.7%) followed by the urban slum (15.6%) and then the village (14.8%) and lowest in the upper middle class (12.3%). Although, the frequency of both consanguinity and birth defects were related with the socio-economic levels of the study groups, there was no association between inbreeding and birth defects. Perhaps, deleterious recessive genes for birth defects have been "bred out", because of continuous inbreeding over generations in this population. There was a significant predilection of major birth defects in boys without clear sex linkage. The conclusion is that the rate of consanguineous marriages was high, especially in the poorer areas, but the relationship between consanguineous marriages and birth defects was little or none. However, other child health indicators may be affected by consanguineous marriages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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