This social structure is common in the Arabic desert in countries like Kuwait. On the other hand, among the agricultural communities, inbreeding also commonly takes place but for different reasons. There it is favored because it ensures the unity of lands.
Inheritance of land by males and females is kept within the same family, and this is of great importance for peasants because small pieces of land are inefficient in agricultural economies.
The consequence of consanguinity in the Arabic population is worse than typical.
Although Arabs are usually identified as Caucasians, modern Arabic populations especially in Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon, are the result of a long history of blending with different human races (Der Kalustian et al., 1980). Arabs, Africans, Europeans, and other Asian people intermarried during wars, mass migrations, trade and religious practices (pilgrimage).
All in all, this kind of “out breeding” rendered Arabic populations more susceptible to genetic disorders when comes to consanguinity; because out breeding introduced different deleterious recessive alleles common among other populations beside those alleles already common among Arabs.
And regardless of the reasons behind it, there has to be an effort at least in the medical field and population genetics to evaluate the situation. There is a lack of research and information concerning the problem.
It is not possible to find the frequencies of endemic genetic disease in a condition like Thalassemia, because genetic screening has to become both available and mandatory for affected families.
Finally, premarital genetic counseling could be of great importance in helping young couples understand the high risk associated with consanguineous marriages..
But with lack of censure and even encouragement from religious leaders it would seem that this is not a practice that is likely to disappear in the near future…
The Muslim world it would seem is rife with superstistion and excuses in an attempt to explain the problem away!
Watch Documentary here: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b91_1295193638
- Study Says ‘Cousin Marriage’ Doubles Gene Risk for Babies (medindia.net)
- Research Identifies Key Factors in Understanding Differences in Rates of Birth Defects (medindia.net)
- Cousins who marry double risk for babies (bigpondnews.com)
- These 2 factors raise risk of birth defect (futurity.org)
- The biology of first cousin marriages (thehindu.com)