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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 November 2011

Genetics Department, Salmaniya Medical Complex, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
Department of Genetic Medicine and Development, Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland


Consanguineous marriage is traditional and respected in most communities of North Africa, the Middle East and West Asia, including Bahrain, with intra-familial unions accounting for 20–50+% of all marriages. Significant secular changes in consanguinity rates have been reported in recent decades in different populations. Among parents of 14,237 newborns in Bahrain in 2008–2009, the total consanguinity and first cousin marriage rates over a period of four months in 2008 were 10.9% and 6.9% respectively, while during all of 2009 the rates were 11.4% and 6.8% respectively. The study confirms that over a ten-year period first cousin marriage rates in Bahrain have declined from 24% to nearly 7%. Although advice against cousin marriages was not attempted at any stage in the comprehensive community genetics programmes in Bahrain, increasing the literacy of the public and of the health care providers on prevention strategies for genetic diseases could have contributed to this decline in consanguinity rate in Bahrain.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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