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Guest John1986

I'm dating my second but there's a caveat

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Hi everybody. I just made an account on this but can't get the confirmation email for some reason but if I do I'll be using it but anyways I'm currently dating my second cousin and she doesn't care that we're related as her parents were first cousins. But that's why I wanna ask if we were to get married and have kids what are the chances of our children having any birth defects? Her dad's mother and her mother's dad are my father's dad's younger siblings. So I just wanna know what are the risks would be before we go too deep into the relationship. We love and care for each other and I have nothing to hide and most of my family knows already that I'm dating my second cousin. Anyways hoping someone can help me out because she isn't an ordinary second cousin. It'll still be a few years before we plan to get married and she's still in school so but just wanna know for the future. Thank you.

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your risks are virtually the same as any unrelated couple. (that risk is 3%).

first cousins have a slightly higher risk (about 2.8% higher, so less than 6% total.) the risk that is elevated for first cousins is called autosomal recessive conditions... those are the birth defects that happen as a result of kinship. they are the rarest of all types of birth defects, because in order to be passed down, both parents have to have the same defective gene... that's not the case with any other type birth defect that you might pass on to a child.

since her parents didn't pass any known disorders down to their child, your second cousin, then her parents apparently didn't have any defective genes in common to pass down.

the odds at this point of the two of you sharing a deleterious gene that would cause an autosomal recessive condition is hugely unlikely. that's not to say it's impossible though... even unrelated couples CAN share a defective gene, but it's rare. unrelated couples that are at higher risk for this phenomenon include people of european jewish descent (tay sachs disease, for example) and blacks from african descent (sickle cell anemia, for example.)

so i wouldn't worry too much. that being said, i believe everybody who ever plans to have a child with someone should see a genetic counselor, which is usually covered by insurance if you get a referral from your primary care physician. the reason i think everybody should is there are some really very serious disorders that can be passed down in other ways. huntington's disease is one that is passed down only from one parent, regardless of who the other is. hemophilia is one that is passed down only from mother to son, the mother being a carrier that usually isn't aware of the disorder she carries until it threatens the life of her child. diseases like that have as much as a 50% risk of being passed along, but may be silently lurking in the family history of just one parent.

a genetic counselor would take a thorough, detailed history of your family's medical conditions (you'll need to prepare that), study it, look for red flags, and then recommend testing for any that the GC might suspect.

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