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Dating a Relative

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Is it healthy?
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Is it Healthy to Date a Relative?

The answer to the question, “Is it healthy to date a relative?” is one that is well disputed and no consensus on the subject has been arrived at to date. There are no modern day studies that accurately prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that cousins who marry and bear children have higher than normal birth defects than children born to people who are not related in any way. Besides the taboo surrounding getting romantically and sexually involved with a relative, many people fear that if they marry their cousin (and in particular their first cousin) that they will have children who have a number of physical and /or mental problems that will be traced back to the fact that they married and produced offspring with a family member.

Many people believe these claims are blown out of proportion to a large extent. Birth defects happen no matter whom a person marries as they can happen within your own race and they can happen if you marry someone from your own town or city. Studies have shown that cousin couples do have a slightly elevated potential for bearing children with birth defects as opposed to individuals who started out as strangers to each other.

It is believed that children born to people who are not related have a risk of two to three percent when it comes to birth defects while first cousin marriages have a risk of four to six percent. To put it another way, first cousins who marry have a 94 percent chance of bringing healthy babies into the world. According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors, the increased risk of first cousins having babies with birth defects falls between 1.7 to 2.8 percent which is approximately the same risk that exists for a woman who is 40 years of age and older.

There is also the flip side of the coin where people who date and then marry and produce children with relative run into many health problems. Choosing to date within your family as opposed to going outside of it, can lead to a much larger percentage of recessive genes. Throughout history there have been a variety of disturbing and unfortunate side effects for individuals choosing to marry and produce children with a family relation. These side effects include a decrease in fertility (which takes into account the viability of sperm); an increase in a number of genetic anomalies and disorders; a lower rate of births; a higher rate of infant mortality and a slower rate of growth.

Other health problems that have been noted by healthcare practitioners include the tendency to have asymmetry of the face that is fluctuating and can be painful and bothersome for others to look at and these individuals are often smaller in size once they reach the end of their growth. Finally individuals born to relatives often have immune systems that are not as fully developed or as fully functioning, as they ought to be as compared to people born to non-related parents.

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