Thursday, November 15, 2007

Algerian study finds blood relatives continue to marry at a high rate

by Mona Sadek from Magharebia (US Department of Defense)

Despite the potential health hazards, marriage between relatives remains popular in Algeria, where tradition has a very strong hold and the tribal system (al ├órch) is being perpetuated ... A study published in September 2007 by the National Foundation for Health Promotion and Research Development (FOREM) identified malformations and genetic anomalies occurring among offspring of blood relatives at rates two to three times higher than normal. These include harelip, Duchene’s disease, haemophilia, heart disease, limb agenesis, Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis. The researchers also determined that Algeria has one of the highest consanguineous marriage rates in the world, with one Algerian in four married to a cousin - much higher than in Morocco or Spain. However, it is lower compared with several Arab countries such as Bahrain (39.40%), Saudi Arabia (50%), Kuwait (54%) or Jordan (55%). The study, the first of its kind in Algeria, surveyed 21 communes scattered over 12 wilayas in the country. Regions reporting the highest levels of consanguineous marriages are generally known for their conservatism.

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