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Marriage Amongst Cousins
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 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I want to know about the blood group matches because me and my husband are relatives and have the same blood. Till now I have lost 2 babies. First one died in my stomach and I delivered. Second was delivered normally but within 3 days the child died. Can we take some injection? Please help me and give more details.

Mamta (Hyderabad, India)

A: You will need to see a consultant gynecologist who will see all your earlier reports & then be able to tell you about the chance of a normal pregnancy. Blood group should not be the problem.

Dr. Asha Paranjpe

Q: I am married to a close relative. I am afraid our kids might be born with congenital problems. Are there any tests we should take before we plan our kids?

Ravi (Calcutta, India)

A: Unfortunately, no. While it is true that the risk of having genetic problems in consanguineous marriages is increased, this is only true if both of you have the same defective gene. Since it is impossible to screen for all genetic defects, no tests can be done before you plan your kids. However, if you have a family history of genetic problems, you may want to see a genetic counsellor for pre-pregnancy counselling.

Q: My wife and I are close relatives (cousins). In India, there is a rumour that if we are close relatives, there are chances of having defective babies. Is it true? My wife has already had a miscarriage.

Anup (Atlanta, USA)

A: Close relatives' off springs can have congenital abnormalities. This has genetic basis. So we do not encourage marriages amongst relatives. Small communities (like Parsis and Muslims) do have such marriages. You are already married. Worrying will not solve the problem. Be optimistic. Not all cases have problems. There are many tests to screen for any abnormality in the unborn baby especially in the USA.

Dr. Purnima

Q: I married my cousin. After 2 years, I conceived and in the 4th month I had a spontaneous miscarriage with no pain. I have irregular cycles. My body is always hot and no matter what I do, I cant reduce this feeling of 'heat'. Does body heat affect the uterus or cause a miscarriage? Do irregular cycles matter? I am afraid that I may have a problem because I married my cousin. What are the side effects if I use birth control pills to regulate my periods? In the early stages of my pregnancy I noticed some light brown spotting. Is this a sign of a miscarriage? What should I do if I see spotting in my next pregnancy? It has been 40 days since my miscarriage, but I still haven't got my period. Is this because I lost a lot of blood? Sometimes after orgasm I get a pain in my lower stomach and my body heat increases. Why is that?

Seema (Savana, USA)

A: Marriages which take place between blood relatives are not healthy from the genetic point of view and are associated with an increased risk of abortions and congenital malformations. The reason for abortion in such marriages could possibly be due to immunological rejection of conceptus where the lymphocyte cross reactive antigens of the mother and father are similar, and the maternal immune system cannot produce a protective response to maintain the pregnancy and it gets aborted. However, please note that a large number of the pregnancies end in a miscarriage (most of the time even before the woman realizes she is pregnant). As for the presence of brownish discharge on the under wear, its presence usually occurs in cases of missed abortion which could also explain the small size of the uterus. As regards the sensation of excessive body heat, I would recommend that you get your thyroid function test done. Deficiency of vitamin B also may contribute to feeling of excessive warmth. Thyroid deficiency may also cause a miscarriage. If your cycles always occur between 33 to 40 days, it is possible that you simply have a longer cycle. Chart your cycles for 3 months. If your period occurs at regular intervals, there is nothing to worry about. I also would recommend that you consult a genetic counsellor before you conceive again.

Dr. Sahni

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