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Consanguineous marriages in Jordan: why is the rate changing with time?


Prof. Hanan Hamamy, c/o Prof. Kamel Ajlouni, President of National Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Genetics, PO Box 13165, Amman 11942, Jordan.
Tel.: +962 6535 3374;
fax: +962 6535 3376;


The objective of this study was to explore the secular trend in consanguinity in Jordan and the subtypes of consanguineous marriages that may be undergoing a change. A total of 1032 individuals attending a diabetic clinic in Amman were interviewed. The questionnaire provided information on consanguinity status and date of marriage among three generations: the persons interviewed, their parents, parents of their spouses and their offspring. Data on consanguinity status among 5401 marriages was obtained. Generations were named generation 1 for marriages contracted before 1950, generation 2 for marriages contracted between 1950 and 1979, and generation 3 for marriages contracted after 1980. For generations 1, 2, and 3, first-cousin marriages constituted 20.2, 28.5 and 19.5% of all marriages, respectively, while the subtype of paternal parallel first-cousin marriages constituted 75.6, 60.3 and 43.3% of all first-cousin marriages, respectively. The offspring of first-cousin parents were significantly more prone to marry their relatives than the offspring of non-consanguineous parents, with rates of first-cousin marriages among offspring of first-cousin parents and non-related parents constituting 25.3 and 17.1% of all marriages, respectively. For generations 1, 2 and 3, the average coefficient of inbreeding was 0.0135, 0.02 and 0.0142, respectively. In conclusion, first-cousin marriage rate among a representative population from Amman showed a significant decline among marriages contracted after 1980 compared to marriages contracted between 1950 and 1979, but not to marriages contracted before 1950. The proportion of paternal parallel first cousins among first-cousin marriages showed a steady decline from one generation to the next.