Consanguity and possible risk of genetic diseases

Patient

Q: I am a 20 year old girl who is soon to get engaged to my first cousin(son of my father's sister).fortunately we both are completely normal and free from all heredity diseases.the problem is that my father,my sister and my mother in law are asthamatic patients n there are some cases of mental retardation and thalycaemia in my spouse's extended family.i wanna know what precautions and tests are we both required to take when we plan a baby.i'll be looking forward to your sincere advice.

Doctor

A:   Marriage within close family members and consanguity always leads to a higher risk of genetic or inborn disorders in the children. Since you do have a strong history of asthma as well as mental retardation and thalessemia there is a stronger and higher risk factor for the development of the same in your children.Since you are marrying your first cousin it is also likely that you share a common gene pool and thus the increased risk. However you both can take thalesemia testing before you concieve to see whether either of you have thalessemia trait . There is other genetic testing also that can be done and you should consult a genetic counsellor to find out about your options. A detailed and indepth family history and description is needed for this.

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