Consanguinity in the Middle East

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1 September 2015

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Consanguinity is the principle arrived at when two blood relatives get into a union of marriage hence reproducing together. Its effect is greatly felt in the Middle East, West Asia, North Africa and immigrants of these countries living in other parts of the world ( Gennet J 3,3). The numbers are high in the said countries because they uphold marriages between members of the same clan- first cousins to be precise. According to (Jaber, Shohot, and Halpern, 1996) countries such as Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have prevalence rate higher than 50% of the total population. The alarming rise in these consanguineous marriages which ranges between a third and a half of the total population (Hama my et al. 2011) has led to creation of awareness among potential couples in a bid to urge them seek counsel on the issue before indulging in intimate relations.

The history of Consanguinity dates back to B.C and relates closely with Religion particularly Judaism. According to (Geneses 20:12) Abraham and Sarah were half brother and sister. Historical sources evidently support consanguineous marriages between members of the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities (Bittles H. 2011). In close levels consanguine relations were in existence in the early societies and as close as 18n 19th century it was mostly practiced in the Arabic country and other parts of the world it was rampant within Egyptians members of the higher echelons especially the ruling dynasties, it was also practiced by Hawaiian ruling class Zoroastrian in Iran and also among the Inca empires ( Bittles H. 2011).

One of the greatest examples of the implications on consanguinity of all times is the powerful dynasty of the Hadsburg of Spain one of the great empires that ruled over Austria during their times and reigned for almost 200 years but halted abruptly because after the death of King Charles 2, there were no heirs to carry on the throne. The death and downfall of an entire dynasty resulted from their recurrent consanguineous marriages which left the King unable to reproduce further hence their fall.


Though these countries have cultures that view unions between close family members as having potential economic as well as social benefits, medics ought look at their negative implications especially increased risks on their offspring ( Hama my et al. 2011).

Among the major implications of consanguineous marriages are, physical deformities, mental retardations, child mortalities and congenital disorders to the off springs. In a survey that was carried out in Jordan the rate of birth defects of newborns from these marriages was found to be twice that of the base population. Conditions such as down syndrome, esophageal atresia, and profound deafness are quite prevalent among these cultures. Some genetic causes of childhood motor disability such as Duchene muscular myopathies are inclined only to the middle east ( Board on Global Health 2001).

Research shows that consanguineous couples stand higher risks of siring children with congenital deformations (Vested Jakosben A. 2003). In an attempt to clarify the consanguinity state of fetuses, some tests ought be carried out according to ( Vested Jakosben A. 2003); a) Counselling to estimate the risk of fetal illness and information about possible examination possibilities. b) An ultrasound scan at the gestational age of 11-14 weeks in order to measure nuchal translucency and an early malformation scan. c) An ultrasound scan for malformations at the gestational age of 18-20 weeks. d) An ultrasound scan especially in order to detect foetal heart malformations at the gestational age of 20-24 weeks.

Consanguinity has also indicated to having a big negative impact on neonatal and infant health. A meta-analysis has indicated an excess infant death rate of 1.1% of first cousins ( Black ML 2010). Research has over time proved that mothers from these cultures suffer more recurrent still births and that the mortality rate is quite higher compared to other cultures.


Consanguinity is a major problem and setback to the economic growth and development of cultures that still embrace it. The elite in these cultures should spearhead awareness among their people so as to do away with this traditional practice that evidently seems to cause more harm than good.


Genet community J. (2012) journal of community genetics

Cambridge university press

Hama my et al. (2011) consanguineous marriages, pearls and perils:Geneva international consanguinity report

Cambridge university press

Board of global health (2011) neurological, psychiatric and developmental disorders: meeting the challenge in the developing world. Retrieved from A. & sogaard M. (2003) consanguinity and congenital abnormalities. Danish

Cambridge university press

Black ML. & Bittles AH. (2010) impact of consanguity on neonatal and infant health: early human development. E publishers

Shalev SA. & Zlotogora J. (2010) The consequences of consanguinity on the rates of malformations and major medical conditions at birth and in early childhood in inbred populations.

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"Consanguinity in the Middle East" StudyScroll, 1 September 2015,

StudyScroll. (2015). Consanguinity in the Middle East [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4 October, 2022]

"Consanguinity in the Middle East" StudyScroll, Sep 1, 2015. Accessed Oct 4, 2022.

"Consanguinity in the Middle East" StudyScroll, Sep 1, 2015.

"Consanguinity in the Middle East" StudyScroll, 1-Sep-2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 4-Oct-2022]

StudyScroll. (2015). Consanguinity in the Middle East. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4-Oct-2022]

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