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A population-based cross-sectional study on consanguineous marriages in rural Tamil Nadu, India

Mohamed Saleem, Kanagasabapathy Shankar, Kalifulla Sabeetha.

Background: Consanguineous marriages were common particularly in the south India. Though there were studies on consanguineous marriages, only a few were population-based studies. In this context, it was important to have population-based studies on the prevalence of consanguineous marriages and the pregnancy outcomes of consanguineous marriages.

Objective: This study has been carried out to estimate the prevalence of consanguineous marriages and its types among women aged between 15 and 49 years and to assess the association between consanguineous marriage and pregnancy outcome.

Materials and Methods: The study design was cross-sectional consisting of 750 married women aged between 15 and 49 years selected from Melur Taluk of Madurai district in Tamil Nadu, India, by cluster sampling method. Data were collected using a questionnaire that included background details, marriage details, and pregnancy outcome details.

Result: Of the 750 women studied, 294 had consanguineous marriage and the overall prevalence rate of consanguineous marriage was 39.2%. The most common type of consanguineous marriage was first cousin marriage (61.6%) and 19.7% had married their maternal uncle. Statistically significant positive association was found between the consanguinity and congenital anomaly, prenatal and postnatal loss except in the case of childhood deaths (15 years).

Conclusion: This study found that the prevalence of consanguineous marriages is comparatively higher in south India. Pregnancy outcomes such as abortions, stillbirths, congenital anomaly, and neonatal and infant deaths were found to be more common in consanguineous marriages. Consanguinity should be discouraged by giving health education to the public about the adverse effects of interrelated marriages.

Key words: Consanguineous marriage, pregnancy outcome, abortions, stillbirths, congenital anomaly

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