First-cousin marriages were once quite common in Europe, especially among the elite – Charles Darwin married his first cousin Emma Wedgwood – but that changed in the late 19th-century as people, especially women, became more socially mobile and the risks became more evident.The stigma attached to first-cousin marriages was supported by early studies into human genetics suggesting that "recessive" versions of a gene (which are not expressed unless there are two of them, one from each parent) are more likely to be expressed in the children of genetically related parents, as well as more likely to be defective.Women in their forties are not made to feel guilty about having babies and the same should apply to cousins who want to marry, said Professor Diane Paul of the University of Massachusetts in Boston and Professor Hamish Spencer of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.Although first-cousin marriages are legal in Britain, there have been calls to ban the practice because of reports that it has resulted in a higher-than-average incidence of birth defects in certain immigrant communities where it is common and culturally acceptable.Most states in America have either outlawed or restricted the practice, as has China, Taiwan and both North and South Korea.Professor Spencer, an evolutionary zoologist, said these laws should be repealed, especially in America, where he said they were drafted in a way that discriminated against the rural poor and immigrants: "Neither the scientific nor social assumptions behind such legislation stand up to close scrutiny."A lot of arranged marriages are with first cousins, and that produces lots of genetic problems in terms of disability [in children]," Mr Woolas said.Peter Corry of St Luke's Hospital in Bradford estimates that among people of Pakistani descent in the city, 55 per cent of whom marry first cousins, the risk of recessive genetic disorders – the type due to related parents – is between 10 and 15 times higher than in the general population.
You can find out more about family law in your own state by contacting a legal services office, a law school that offers legal services to students and the public, or searching your state's homepage on the internet.Kissing cousins now have a free site, where they may come to exchange information and advice. Dear Alice, What are the pros and cons (legally and morally) of dating your 1st cousin?If cousin couples happen to be carrying known genetic diseases, the risks faced by their offspring can jump.
Experts say 1 out of 4 such children will have some sort of disorder.
You may want to consider discussion how your relationships affects them.