Health: Cousin Marriage

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to give extra medical support to children born of parents from the same extended family.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage better relations between the medical profession and those groups within society among whom same-cousin marriages are prevalent.

Earl Howe: As with any situation where children need additional health care, an assessment should be made and based on clinical need commissioned by local National Health Service services.

The department has supported development of local services specifically dealing with consanguineous relationships. This includes initiatives delivered through regional NHS genetic counselling services that work to raise awareness of the risks associated with cousin marriage.

Most couples in consanguineous relationships will have healthy children. Overall the risk of any given couple having a child with a severe genetic condition is still relatively small, estimated at 4 per cent for cousin marriages compared to 2 per cent for unrelated parents.