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Dating a Relative

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Is it healthy?
Medical consequences
Why?

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Medical Consequences of Dating a Relative

There are many health and medical consequences that are connected to dating a relative. This dating situation is fraught with many problems and it is a precarious situation that is not strongly encouraged either by the medical community or the law for a variety of reasons. The further removed a relative is the less of a concern it is medically and legally, however for many individuals in today’s society, it is a source of controversy and an extreme taboo.

Often called “inbreeding” (as in breeding within your family unit as opposed to going outside of it), if this practice is carried out often it can lead to a decrease in genetic diversity and the increased possibility for recessive traits showing up in future generations. This in turn can lead to what is called inbreeding depression. As a result of this, people who are inbred tend to have less than ideal health and fitness levels and they often have decreased levels of fertility.

As previously mentioned, inbreeding amongst human beings can lead to a higher percentage of recessive genes than could be expected to be found in the general population where this does not take place. It is first-generation inbred individuals who tend to exhibit more physical and mental defects than do later generations of inbred individuals. Some of the most common and debilitating side effects of first-generation inbreeding that have been observed by researchers and the medical community at large include a decrease in fertility, including both the viability of sperm as well as how many offspring a couple is capable of bearing; an increase in a variety of genetic disorders; a lower rate of births; a higher rate of infant mortality and a slower rate of growth. But that is not all. Inbred individuals often have asymmetry of their face that is fluctuating and often uncomfortable (an example from history being Charles II of Spain ) and they are often smaller in stature in adulthood and tend to not have immune systems that function at full capacity.

Natural selection often works in the world of human beings as it does in the animal kingdom as people who exhibit any number of the above traits and who are inbred individuals often do not survive very long and many women carrying inbred fetuses suffer miscarriages. It is nature’s way of weeding out the weak from the strong. A large percentage of first-generation inbred individuals therefore do not live long enough in order to become adults and reproduce. Many of the deleterious inherited traits of inbreeding are done away with due to such things as natural environmental stresses and assortative (or purposeful) breeding.

Inbreeding tends to be more commonly practice when it comes to livestock and plants than human beings. Breeders of livestock carry out this practice in order to improve upon the characteristics of the population of animals while in plants it is done to create new lines of hybrids. Inbreeding in regards to plants also takes place in its natural form by way of self-pollination.

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