A Perth-based researcher has called for an end to the stigma surrounding marriage between cousins, after uncovering evidence that the health risks have been greatly exaggerated.
Murdoch University adjunct professor Alan Bittles has shed new light on the consequences of intra-familial marriages, which he says are on the rise in Australia due to increased migration.
This statistic is interesting...
Bittles claims more than 1.1 billion people are either married to a close relative or are the offspring of such a marriage, which are common in many Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Jewish communities.
In his book, Consanguinity in Context, Bittles called for greater understanding and acceptance of the practice, which is largely taboo in Western countries.
He said there was a general belief that first cousin marriages lead to negative genetic outcomes, yet a large majority of children born to first cousins are healthy.
And in many cases of those born with defects, non-genetic factors were often to blame.
But wait, there's more!
Bittles said there could be some genetic advantages to same-blood offspring.
"But mainly the advantages are social and economic in nature, with the strengthening of family ties, and the maintenance of family goods, including land-holdings," he said.
There is so much ignorance and bad information out there. There is nothing wrong with consanguineous sex or marriage.