NCT's response to new BiB study on marriage between first cousins and the risks of birth defects

Released on: 04 July 2013

A new BiB study, published in the Lancet, finds that marriage between first cousins can more than double the risk of giving birth to a baby with a 'congenital anomaly'.

NCT’s Senior Policy Adviser, Elizabeth Duff said: 

“While there is already current knowledge about the risks that may result in birth defects, the BiB study has provided some useful additional findings.

“Many of the risks investigated are not those that can be remedied by lifestyle changes but nevertheless, it is essential that expectant couples are well informed and have opportunities for discussion with a health professional about the possible risks to their baby. 

“Governments recommend that women during pregnancy and breastfeeding should take both folic acid and vitamin D, along with following a healthy diet and taking exercise: all these help maintain wellbeing for the mother and her baby and are crucial for the first 1,000 days. Although smoking and alcohol are not associated with birth anomalies in this study, both can affect the health of the unborn baby. As such, pregnant women are urged by health professionals to reduce or eliminate smoking and drinking. 

“We hope that families whose babies have been born with conditions that may result in long-term disability are provided with the right support and care.”