Culture-Specific Health Risk

Consanguinity

Marrying a first cousin or mother’s brother is not an uncommon practice in olden India. Marrying the offspring of a mother’s brother or a father’s sister is an acceptable traditional practice in some Hindu families, but marrying the offspring of a mother’s sister or a father’s brother is not.

In Muslim Asian Indians, marrying the offspring of a mother’s sister or a father’s brother is acceptable but marrying the offspring of a mother’s brother or a father’s sister is an not acceptable. Although this practice is falling out of favor as the medical risks associated with consanguinity are better understood, older Asian Indians may be offspring of a consanguineous marriage. There is increased risk of developmental anomalies and common autosomal recessive disorders.

Common disorders occurring in the Indian sub continent are:

• Sickle cell anemia

• thalassemia

• cleft lip and palate

• limb and gut malformations

• neural tube defects (Ahmed et al., 2002).