Melbourne, June 4 : The belief that babies born to first-cousins will suffer from some kind of deformities is all a myth, say researchers in Australia.
According to an earlier Australian research published in 2001, babies born to first-cousins are nearly three times more likely to have serious birth defects.
But Professor Alan Bittles, a director at the Centre for Comparative Genomics at Murdoch University, who has spent 30 years researching the topic, says most children born to first cousins are healthy.
"In Western culture there is a general belief that first cousin marriages lead to negative genetic outcomes, yet a large majority of children born to first cousins are healthy," The Daily Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
Prof Bittles reviewed 48 studies from 11 countries and found that the risks of birth defects rose from about 2 per cent in the general population to 4 per cent in consanguineous or same blood couples.
He found that only 1.2 per cent suffered higher infant mortality rates, a find similar to another review from 2002 that suggested first-cousin children are less than 3 per cent more likely to have genetic deformities.