One in five child deaths caused by closely related parents in east London borough

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Nearly one in five child deaths in an east London borough are caused by the parents being closely related, according to a new report.

Redbridge Council found that 19% of the 124 children who died between 2008 and 2016 had parents who were consanguineous couples, The Independent reported.

These couples are second cousins or in some cases they are even more closely related. The report reviewed 80% of 200 child deaths in Redbridge between 2008 and 2016.

The borough's Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP) said causes of death for these children were “chromosomal, genetic and congenital abnormalities."

Children of closely related parents are more likely to inherit certain genetic disorders.

Other child deaths in Redbridge were caused by preventable factors, which included poor access to health care and untimely interventions.

The number of interfamily relationships in Redbridge has risen in the last year, but is still not as high as the numbers recorded between 2009 and 2010.

The report said those from Pakistani origins have the highest rate of interfamily relationships, and 9% of child deaths were from families with Pakistani origins.

Half of the deaths reviewed in the report were children of Asian ethnicities. No deaths were recorded for those of white Irish, mixed white or black African ethnicities.

One percent of deaths were from Arab, Asian, Chinese or other ethnic groups.

Chairwoman of the CDOP, Gladys Xavier, has called for better education in schools about genetics and consanguineous relationships.

But the director of public health for Redbridge Vicky Hobart argued: "Consanguinity is very common in many cultures and the worry with something like this is that we are dealing with very small numbers. It is important to note trends but we should not read too much into it."

A spokesperson for Redbridge Council said: "Although numbers are small, we have been talking with community members and they have told us that people want better information and services to support families in understanding the issues around cousin marriages and genetic risk. In response, we have made information available."