Studies of cousin marriages worldwide suggest that the risks of illness and early death are three to four percent higher than in the rest of the population.But the risks apply primarily to couples who are carriers of disorders that are normally very, very rare, Bittles explained.317 The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) is a nonprofit science center dedicated to cross-disciplinary research in evolution.Funded by the National Science Foundation, NESCent is jointly operated by Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University."Many of the data are exceedingly poor," Bittles said.Some degree of inbreeding has been the norm for much of human history.Scientists estimate that the first people to migrate out of Africa numbered 700 to 10,000 breeding-aged individuals.
What's more, many studies of the effects of cousin marriage fail to account for the influence of non-genetic factors on infant health, such as socioeconomic status, maternal diet during pregnancy, and infections.Marriage between cousins is taboo in much of the Western world.In the United States, 31 of 50 states outlaw marriage between first cousins, or allow it only under certain circumstances.Durham, NC -- The health risks of marrying a cousin have been grossly overstated, says a new book.A better understanding of the health effects of cousin marriage could mean more appropriate marriage laws and better medical care for cousin couples and their children.One surprising and oft-neglected advantage of marriage between close biological relatives is a phenomenon called purging, in which disease genes are exposed and removed from the gene pool.Thanks to purging, marriage between close relatives in early human populations would have kept the prevalence of genetic disorders low, Bittles explained."If you marry within your community, there's not a lot of people to choose from," he added.Bittles is now studying the effects of kin mating in early humans and the genetic consequences for people living today at the U. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina.For more information about research and training opportunities at NESCent, visit Are you looking for a way to save money on auto insurance?