Friday, 08 Feb, 2008 Science
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Related Couples Have More Children

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A new study found that mating with your relative may give you a chance to have more children.

In many societies, inbreeding is unacceptable, while scientists claim that it may increase the chances of a child acquiring two copies of disease-causing recessive genes and lead to genetic disorders and higher infant mortality. Previously, in a study conducted in India and Pakistan, it was concluded that married cousins are more likely to have larger families.

Kari Stefansson, a geneticist and colleagues at deCODE Genetics, Iceland used a genealogical database for all of Iceland couples born between 1800 and 1965 to find the number of children and grandchildren in their families.

Scientists discovered that related couples had more children and grandchildren than unrelated couples. In case, the husband and a wife were third cousins, they had on average 4.0 children and 9.2 grandchildren. The number of children declined if woman married her eight cousin, resulting in 3,3 children and 7,3 grandchildren on average.

Alan Bittles, a community geneticist of Murdoch University in Perth, Australia says that despite the findings, it should be warned that social and economic factors may also play their role. Bittles says that larger number of children can be explained by the fact that in case of inbreeding, mother and fetus have more chances of compatible blood type increasing the chances of live births.

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