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Oz researcher calls to end stigma associated with 'safe' cousin marriages

Canberra , Fri, 27 Apr 2012 ANI

Canberra, April 27 (ANI): A research has called for ending the stigma associated with marriage between cousins, after discovering that health risks have been greatly exaggerated in such match-ups.

A Perth-based research by Murdoch University adjunct professor, Alan Bittles, has shed light on the consequences of intra-familial marriages, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Professor Bittles has tried to tackle common misconceptions of same-blood marriage from a social, medical and religious perspective in a new book titled Consanguinity in Context, based on 35 years of research.

In his book, Bittles has called for a greater understanding and acceptance of the practice, which is largely considered a taboo in Western countries.

Bittles has said that intra-familial marriages are on the rise in Australia due to increased migration.

Bittles in his research has claimed that over 1100 million people either married their close relative or were offsprings of such a marriage.

He said that such marriages were common in many Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Jewish communities.

He said that a general belief that first cousin marriages lead to negative genetic outcomes was wrong and a large majority of children born to first cousins are healthy.

Bittles said that there could be some genetic advantages to same-blood offspring.

"The central aim in my work is the prevention of genetic disease through a better understanding and appreciation of how genes are transmitted within families and communities," Bittles said. (ANI)

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