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      Get Smart on the Web   09/16/2016

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Ariel11

Double first cousins

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So me and my cousin have been together for 3 1/2 years so we wanna get married. It's normal and accepted in our culture, however, my mother keeps warning and worrying me about birth defects. The problem is my parents and his parents are cousins.. So my mom and his dad are brother and sister and my dad and his mom are brother and sister and they're cousins. We came out perfectly fine and I was always warned not to marry my cousin for health reasons but feelings happen. Now I'm just stuck in the problem and worried about the outcomes of our children when we plan to have some hopefully. We plan on getting married and year or 2 from now.

What are the chances of having abnormal children? What does genetic counseling do? What options do we have?

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Its only a 2 to 3 percent higher risk then a normal couple. your kids will still have a 93 percent chance to come out normal.

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what genetic counesling does is assess your individual risks based on a detailed family medical history and possibly some blood tests (if the medical history indicates potential problems) and then gives you peace of mind.

what it can't do is give you any guarantees. nobody can do that. but what they are looking for is any autosomal recessive disorders that appear in both sides of the family. if there are any, then you can both be blood tested to see if you both carry the gene for that specific disorder. if neither of you, or even if only one of you, carries the defective gene, then your children will NOT be at risk. if, on the other hand, you BOTH carry the defective gene, then the genetic counselor will tell you that your child has a 1-in-4 chance of inheriting that specific disorder. and then you can use that information to decide whether you want to take that risk, (and your decision might very well be based on how debilitating the disorder would be), or whether you want to consider adopting rather than having biological children.

most insurance plans cover genetic counseling, and really, it's a wise choice for any couple, related or not... because most genetic disorders are ones that have nothing to do with the relatedness of the parents. the ones that we are more at risk for are only the autosomal recessive ones. that doesn't mean that your children aren't at risk for other types of disorders, it just means that THAT risk would be the exact same even if you were marrying someone totally unrelated. and your genetic counselor will also be able to test for any such known disorders that run in either side of your family at the same time.

and just to clarify (correct) what love4him said.... typical first cousins do only have a 2-3% higher risk than unrelated couples... (actually, it's 1.4 to 2.8% higher). you and yours, however, are double first cousins, so the risk is a tiny bit more. it's not double, but it's like half again... so your risk level is probably about 3-5% greater than unrelated couples, instead of 2-3%. still a very small risk overall, but those numbers mean nothing to the people in the world who are affected by genetic disorders. so i do encourage you to see a GC, so that you aren't just going into this completely blind.

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