Cousin marriage is a prevalent culture existing in Pakistan very acutely. However, the aspect associated with it that is being neglected for decades is its link with mental retardation.
A couple of years back, researchers at SZABMU (Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University) Islamabad, collaborating with scientists with America and Netherlands, brought out a revolutionary study on cousin marriages. The research was also published in the most prestigious science journal, Nature’s Molecular Psychiatry.
The research report revealed that 30 genes are responsible for causing mental retardation and intellectual disabilities in Pakistan. The report stated that cousin marriages in Pakistan are the reason for the issue persists in the society.
Dr Javed Akram, Vice Chancellor of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University, called it a ‘landmark’ discovery.
To examine and reach the conclusion, a total of 121 families were examined with ID (Intellectual Disabilities). The people belonged to rural areas of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan, Punjab and Northern Areas.
The families under consideration belonged to 8 different ethnic groups: Afghan, Baloch and Kashmiri (3.8%), Urdu speaking (7.8%), Pathan (9%), Siraiki (10.8%), Punjabi (68.6%). In each of these families, 2 or more family members were affected from mental retardation.
Cousin marriage is a normalized concept in Pakistan, however, the debate on the controversial subjects are hardly taking place. With the issue plaguing the society and family well-being of the individuals, we desperately need to launch effective campaigns on the subject.
Baroness Flather, Britain’s first Asian peer, spoke on the issue and said that first cousin marriage is the cause of disabilities in children and it’s appalling. She also suggested that couples should get a DNA test prior to getting married and not let the children suffer for their ignorance.
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