A government campaign is needed to make British Pakistanis aware of the medical risks of cousin marriages, says a Labour MP. Ann Cryer says that “as we address problems of smoking, drinking, obesity, we say it’s a public health issue, and therefore we all have to get involved with it in persuading people to adopt a different lifestyle.” The Asian community, she argues, “must look outside the family for husbands and wives for their young people.”
According to the BBC, British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have children with genetic disorders like deafness and cerebral palsy than the general population. However, Dr Aamra Darr, of the University of Leeds, comments that “altering a whole community’s marriage pattern is an inadequate and superficial response to a serious health issue”. She points out in BioNews that 20% of the world’s population live in communities which prefer cousin marriages and that 8.5% of all births are from such unions.
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