Facts About Cousin Marriage

Kissing cousins

Some people are fixated on the fallacy that cousin couples pose an intolerable risk to their offspring. However it is likely that we are all descendants of cousin marriages. Before civil laws banning cousin marriages, it was preferable to marry a cousin in some communities as it is to this day in many countries. The notion "why marry a stranger" is just as prevalent in many countries as the cousin marriage taboo in America today. There are a wide range of opinions on the subject of cousin marriages. This is fuelled by erroneous information, bigotry, and presumptions. Further we have civil laws and religious creeds based on obsolete information.

The facts about cousin marriages are much clearer.

Fears of cousins who marry having children with birth defects are exaggerated. Simply marrying within your own race increases the odds of birth defects. Marrying within your own town further increases your chances. Cousin couples have only a slightly higher incidence of birth defects than non-related couples.

26 states allow first cousin marriages; most people can marry their cousin in the US.
US prohibitions against cousin marriages predate modern genetics.
No European country prohibits marriage between first cousins. It is also legal throughout Canada and Mexico to marry your cousin. The U.S. is the only western country with cousin marriage restrictions.
Children of non-related couples have a 2-3% risk of birth defects, as opposed to first cousins having a 4-6% risk. Genetic counseling is available for those couples that may be at a special risk for birth defects (e.g. You have a defect that runs in your family) In plain terms first cousins have at a 94 percent + chance of having healthy children. Check the links section for more information on genetic counselors. The National Society of Genetic Counselors estimated the increased risk for first cousins is between 1.7 to 2.8 percent, or about the same a any woman over 40 years of age. Source: external link
Second cousins have little, if any increased chance of having children with birth defects, per the book "Clinical Genetics Handbook"
The frequency of cousin marriages in the USA is about 1 in 1,000. The frequency of cousin marriages in Japan is about 4 in 1,000
It is estimated that 20 percent of all couples worldwide are first cousins. It is also estimated that 80 percent of all marriages historically have been between first cousins!
In some cultures, the term cousin and mate are synonymous.
Albert Einstein married his first cousin. And so did Charles Darwin, who had exceptional children.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the longest serving US president in history married his cousin (not a first cousin, however they shared the same last name).
Leviticus 18 lists all forbidden sexual relationships. Cousin relationships are not included.
God commanded many cousins to marry, including Zelophehad's 5 daughters, Eleazar's daughters, Jacob (who married both Rachel and Leah, first cousins), and Isaac and Rebekkah (first cousins once removed)
It is likely that Joseph and Mary -- Christ's earthly parents were first cousins.
Current studies indicate that cousin couples have a lower ratio of miscarriages -- perhaps because body chemistry of cousins is more similar. The verdict is still out.

We are all cousins. No two people are more distantly related than 50th cousins.

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