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What is Consanguinity?
Consanguinity or kinship is characterized by the sharing of common ancestors. The word is derived from the Latin consanguineus, meaning 'of common blood'. Consanguineous persons have at least one common ancestor in the preceding few generations. A consanguineous marriage is one in which two individuals related by blood, such as cousins, get married and have children.

Genes, which occur in pairs, are packages of information that we inherit from our parents. The risk of birth defects is higher in consanguineous marriages because there is a greater chance of two related individuals sharing a common harmful gene and both of them passing it on to the child.

The risk and type of birth defects in consanguineous marriages varies according to how closely the couple is related. Most consanguineous couples can have normal healthy children.

Both parents give one copy. When these two are paired together, sometimes one dominates over the other, which means the trait will "show" even if only one copy is present. The trait that is hidden is called recessive. If each parent gives a copy of the recessive trait however, there is no trait to dominate over it and the recessive trait will show. This is why we say that sometimes traits "skip a generation" (not always true!) or there is a hidden trait in a family. If one of these recessive traits being carried in people in the family, with every generation there is a greater chance that two carriers could come together and each donate a recessive trait. In other words, there is a greater PROBABILITY that this trait will show up in a close family mating than in the general population. If there are no traits in the family however, the likelihood that first cousins will have problems is no greater than the general population. So it depends on a lot of factors.

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