Aisha Liaqat, Hamid ur Rehman, Asma Abdul Rehman, Safa Anwar, Anam Khurshid, Hameed Ullah, Muhammad Usman Afridi, Muhammad Ibrar


Introduction: Consanguinity refers to a relationship between two people who share a common ancestor or blood. At present about 20% of the world’s population live in communities with preference for consanguineous marriages. Pakistan is also one of these countries where the prevalence of consanguineous marriages is very high, particularly in rural areas. Such marriages have an impact on the reproductive health parameters such as postnatal mortality and hereditary disorders specifically autosomal recessive genetic disorders.

Materials & Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted in the rural community of Nahaki, Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province of Pakistan, from Jan-June 2015 on patients and visitors attending the Nahaki Emergency Satellite Hospital (NESH). A sample size of 150 was selected via convenience sampling; data were collected through questionnaire-based interviews which contained questions about knowledge, attitude and practices of subjects regarding consanguinity and its associated reproductive risks, as well as questions about the factors that led to these practices. SPSS version 15.0 was used for data analysis.

Results: Out of 150 interviewed subjects, 82.7% responded to having knowledge about consanguinity; however only 43.3% responded to having information about the side effects associated with consanguineous marriages, while only 29.7% knew of the increased risks due to cousin marriages. A staggering 97.3% reported consanguineous marriages in their extended families and 74.0% had a positive attitude towards cousin marriages. The predominant factors of consanguinity were the traditions and authority of parents regarding marriages; 68.7% of the subjects were of the view that couples should get information about the risks associated with cousin marriages beforehand. Only 4.3% had undergone blood tests for genetic status before marriage.

Conclusions: The practice of consanguineous marriages is quite high in the rural areas and majority of the population is unaware about the risks associated with this practice, however, their attitude regarding awareness campaigns was quite positive. These results indicate that more efforts are needed in creating awareness and public health strategies regarding consanguineous marriages and its associated reproductive risks.

Keywords: Consanguinity; Marriage; Congenital abnormalities; Homozygote; Heterozygote.

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