Kissin' cousins

  1. I have come across a very touchy subject today at work. I have a new mom. Was married to her first cousin, had a baby, now FOB not involved. The baby is actually the FOB's son and cousin. My question is, are there any laws regarding incest, and at what "removed" (ie, twice removed, 3X removed) cousin is considered at a "safe" distance for families. I have not come across this before, yes this is a very small town area, and it doesn't surprise me. Kinda makes me relieved that I am an "outsider" to this area. Anyone else come across this?
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    About wubbakat

    Joined: May '06; Posts: 29
    Labor and Delivery RN
    Specialty: CICU,NICU,L&D,Newborn,PP,OB

    14 Comments

  3. by   caroladybelle
    Marriage laws often dictate what is legally considered incest - thus they would have assessed the legal issue before marriage theoretically. Though some cases slip through or they may have lied.

    As far as "safety" in genetic distance, for prevention of birth defects, there is no set standard. One or two close marriages in a family generally causes few problems. Yes, it is preferable not to intermarry at all , but it becomes more of an issue, if there is repeated intermarriages. The royal family of Great Britain is an example, with the example of hemophilia being carried on to Russia.

    History is filled with royal families intermarrying frequently. John of Lancaster with his children by three different women, with those descendants later intermarrying is a major example.
  4. by   Fiona59
    There is no laws against it where I come from. But I have heard that its illegal in some states.

    People usually know their family's health history and most are "aware" enough to avoid situations.

    My mother's family had cousins marry, produced a university lecturer and a noted artist.
  5. by   Mulan
    There was a segment on one of the news programs, dateline maybe, about this, first cousins marrying and having children. As mentioned above it is legal in some states and not in others. The original laws went back to something in the bible. The people shown had children without problems.
  6. by   buddiage
    The middle east- that's what they do all the time. They marry cousins.
  7. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Some States outlaw through first cousin, some don't.

    In John Stossel's latest book, he provided some research to suggest that first cousions ARE far enough removed regarding birth defects. But THAT concern was one of the reasons behind the stigma.

    I wouldn't think much about it, either way. I would think that a huge concern would be: you can't divorce a first cousin and be done with them. When you marry into your family, a divorce is a divorce within the family.

    Yuck to THAT thought, not the stigma. Or maybe, that's ANOTHER reason behind the stigma.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Sep 22, '06
  8. by   MuddaMia
    [quote=ZASHAGALKA]Some States outlaw through first cousin, some don't.

    In John Stossel's latest book, he provided some research to suggest that first cousions ARE far enough removed regarding birth defects. And THAT is the reason behind the stigma.

    quote]

    I am confused...they ARE far enough romoved IS the reason for stigma? I could see if it was that the incidence of birth defects was much greater than non-consanguous unions. I think maybe you made a typo--as this is not the reason.

    I have read that the USA stigma (history of it, that is) is closely tied into economics. It made more sense to join the resources of two families..rather than enlarging one family( ie children).

    Today the stigma is based on misinformed people who don't bother to look into the actual gentetics, etc.

    My take on it is--people fall in love every day--live and let live
  9. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Quote from MuddaMia
    I am confused...they ARE far enough romoved IS the reason for stigma? I could see if it was that the incidence of birth defects was much greater than non-consanguous unions. I think maybe you made a typo--as this is not the reason.

    I have read that the USA stigma (history of it, that is) is closely tied into economics. It made more sense to join the resources of two families..rather than enlarging one family( ie children).

    Today the stigma is based on misinformed people who don't bother to look into the actual gentetics, etc.

    My take on it is--people fall in love every day--live and let live
    The concern that they AREN'T far enough removed, both genetically and family dynamics wise, is the basis of the stigma. Or a few of the concerns. I pointed out these two. You, a third.

    Stigmas and taboos occur for a reason, or a variety of them. This one is likely outdated, as we have evidence to the contrary regarding genetics, and the situations of the past - both in the closeness of family dynamics and the need to combine resources - do not necessarily apply to today.

    I agree, to the extent such stigmas ARE outdated, live and let live.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Sep 22, '06
  10. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from buddiage
    The middle east- that's what they do all the time. They marry cousins.
    It does occur often in the Middle East. However, there it is often a repeated pattern, occuring over and over again, and there are significant birth defects related to the practice.

    It is also seen in Amish groups here in the USA. As Amish are small group in most areas, marrying another Amish person often means that the individuals marrying have distant family relationships (second cousins, twice removed, etc.) and it is very difficult to find two people in a community that are not somehow distantly related. There are defects noted in that community, the most benign being polydactyly (extra fingers or toes). Because of this issue, young Amish men/women may be sent to work/visit with distant family/friends so that they are exposed to distant Amish not of their kin, hoping that they will marry into that group, adding new unrelated blood to a different Amish community, or that they will return and bring new blood into their own community.

    Many Ultraorthodox/Hasidic/Eastern European Jews also do the same thing, arranging marriages between young people of separate communities, because their own communities are so insular.

    Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (not to be confused w/the "official" Mormon church) because of their practice of polygamy, have also run into some problems w/birth defects, due to the process of repeatedly intermarrying cousins/close relations. When Mother and daughter and cousin all marry the same man, and their progeny marry uncles or cousins, and their progeny does the same in their community, that is closed to many outsiders, there are problems. The same genetic defect can be compounded/multiplied. And as their births are generally at home, attended by their own community, documentation is poor. And as the marriages, other than the first marriage are generally undocumented, it is difficult to track the issue. The defects are often chalked up to sin or to "the will of G-d".

    Again, in these groups, the problem is REPEATED intermarriage, much like the royal families of Europe. A single interfamily marriage between cousins during several generations rarely results in dire consequences, unless there is a known genetic issue like Huntington's, Sickle Cell, or Tay Sachs....diseases that should be checked out by any possible carrier for any marriage, regardless.
  11. by   snowfreeze
    Cousins marrying is not even line breeding, they have different parents, one of which is related to another unless parents were siblings marrying siblings. So this is two generation removed. One generation removed is brother and sister, that is line breeding and if the father and mother are not the same it is even less an issue unless the family has serious health issues.
  12. by   eden
    I don't know how far removed is far enough but I do know someone who married a 6th cousin or whatever it's called. They didn't even know they were related when they started dating.
  13. by   MIA-RN1
    my great grandmother married her cousin, of seven children there was at least one alcoholic, one schizophrenic, one with cerebral palsy, one died young. The next generations ende up with some alcoholism, depression, bipolar...not sure if its the cousin-to-cousin thing or not but gives one thought.
    (And it makes me somehow 4th cousins or something to my mother, which is just weird)
  14. by   KRVRN
    When I got married and googled up what it took to get a marriage liscense I happened upon a big listing of all 50 states indicating which ones allowed first cousins to marry and which ones didn't. Some specified that it was okay, some not and some said that only if the woman was past childbearing years. (irrelevant to my hubby and I as we are completely unrelated)

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