Objectives: Consanguinity is a wide spread practice in Jordan. The objective of this study is to explore the health effects of consanguinity, in particular fertility, reproductive wastage, infant mortality and congenital malformations.
Methods: A stratified 2 stage cluster sample of 1867 married couples, representative of all population groups and all geographic locations of Jordan were randomly selected. A questionnaire was specially designed to explore each of the objectives set for the study and was field tested. A group of field workers were thoroughly trained on the implementation of this instrument. All 1867 couples were interviewed by these field workers and completed questionnaires were reviewed before data entry. Data analysis was carried out using SPSSX statistical package. Significance tests were performed wherever appropriate.
Results: The study showed that fertility, as measured by the number of pregnancies, taking into consideration marriage duration, was not affected by consanguinity. Twin pregnancies and abortions did not show any significant difference between consanguineous and non-consanguineous marriages. Consanguineous marriages showed significantly higher rates of still births and infant mortality in general. Within the consanguineous group, female infant mortality rates were significantly higher than those of males. Congenital malformations as reported by mothers of consanguineous marriages were significantly higher than those reported by mothers of non-consanguineous marriages.
Conclusion: This study showed that consanguinity has a detrimental effect on many aspects of reproductive health.