C onsanguineous marriages and their effect on pregnancy outcomes in India
The trends in reproductive performance and wastage are studied in relation to consanguinity of marriage and age of women on a population sample of 20,626 women, from the rural and urban areas of North Arcot District in South India. Data were collected by qualified women investigators using intensive interveiw techniques and specially developed questionnaires. Adequate quality control mechanisms were set up to ensure reliability of information gathered. For each marriage, a family pedigree was drawn extending upwards to two early generations on the side of each spouse in order to determine the existence and type of consanguinity married, 80% or more of such between an uncle and a niece or between first cousins. Altogher 70 161 total pregnancies were recorded for the 20,626 women. The differences between consanguineous and non-consanguineous marriages in terms of total foetal loss, perinatal, neonatal, postneonatl and infant mortality rates showed only marginal differences that attain statistical significance only because of the large sample size involved. No consistent relationships were observed between the degree of consanguinity and these reproductive losses. These actual differences were more marked in the older age-groups of women and declined to rather insignificant proportions as the age groups became younger. Taking into consideration the various socio-demographic factors, the narrowing differentials in the reproductive wastage between consanguineous and non-consanguineous marriages from the oldest to the youngest women confirm the tapering effects of continued inbreeding practices on the reproductive wastage. Further studies on these lines are still in progress.