Birth defects higher in children born to first cousins

LONDON (WIAT) — According to a study out of England, babies who are born to first cousins are twice as likely to have birth defects as opposed to babies born to parents who are not closely related.

The study was initially conducted to try to determine the reasons for higher birth defect rates in Pakistani communities.

The findings of the study, which were published in the journal Lancet, found that babies who were born to mothers over 34 years old were twice as likely to have birth defects compared to those born to younger mothers.

Researchers say that while the data indicates that the risk is doubled, it’s still a very marginal risk.

Children of first cousins were found to have a 6 percent risk of birth defects, while children of older mothers were found to have a four percent chance of birth defects.

The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care.

Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42

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