Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Marriage among relatives increases foetal abnormalities

The practice of marrying first cousins (consanguineous marriages) is rampant in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are several grounds for this ongoing tradition, sometimes it  is for protecting the family property, sometimes it is just for cultural and social reasons.  Statistics  reveal that, one in ten children out of these marriages develop genetic abnormalities and die in infancy or keep suffering from serious disorders through their entire life.

The explanation for this disorder lies in the recessive gene disorders. Every human being is a carrier of some abnormal recessive genes, but in most cases no visible defects are observed because the normal gene overrules the abnormal one. But in consanguineous marriages, both the partners often carry the same abnormal recessive genes, hence the chance for their child to develop genetic abnormalities like blindness, deafness, heart, kidney, lung, liver ailments are very high. Even if the children does not show any visible symptoms, they can still act as carriers and still chances are there that the next generation will be affected.

Below is the case of  a consanguineous couple, who had to suffer repeated neonatal deaths. The couple  were first cousins and had 3 incidences of their babies death. The chromosome analysis showed a minor abnormality in both the parents, who appears perfectly normal otherwise. The same abnormality seen in both of them was again seen in the result of the baby ( expired).

Now they have come to us for donor sperm or donor egg treatment. We have counseled and informed them that although less, there  are still chances for abnormalities, as they will still be using one gamete with the genetic problem. But we cannot conclude anything for sure. They may still have chance for a normal living child, but cannot guarantee.

We have an option of testing baby in the womb at  10 weeks after pregnancy happens. But I would rather advise the parents not to do the test, in order to avoid unnecessary termination of pregnancy, as the baby may be having it  and still be viable.

Genetic testing and counseling is a very important aspect of infertility treatment, as most of the time the women fail to conceive or have abortions because of genetic problems.

Dr. Anita Mani
Infertility& Surrogacy Specialist at Gift IVF Centre


Dr. Anita Mani is a renowned infertility specialist in south India with 15 years experience in ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology). Dr. Anita has successfully set up ART hospitals in Cochin and Bangalore,  along with her spouse  Dr. S Mani, who specialises in surrogacy. She completed MRCOG, from Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologist  London, DFFP from  ART Warwick university and  worked in UK for 5 years. Dr. Anitha believes in scientific and ethical practice and is currently the director of Gift Gyno IVF centre Cochin and  Bangalore.  Apart from advanced laparoscopic surgeries, she is also an expert in various ART techniques including IVF, IUI, ICSI , donor egg / sperm  and surrogacy . Her proficiency is in genetic abnormalities and high risk pregnancies.

Fathers result 

Mothers result 

Childs report( expired ) 

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