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Say no to marriage between relatives
Filed on June 27, 2016 | Last updated on June 27, 2016 at 12.04 am
(For illustrative purpose)
Study finds consanguineous couples major cause of a high rate of infertility in the Gulf region
A newly released study published by IVF Fertility Middle East has revealed that consanguineous couples (those marrying first- or second-degree relatives) are a major cause of a high infertility in the Gulf region.
The study by Professor Dr Human Mousavi Fatemi further highlights that there are differences in treating GCC patients, compared to western patients, due to cultural and social issues.
The results are of significance not only in the Gulf but around the world, since over 20 per cent of children have consanguineous parents. It is the first time that these findings are analysed and presented to the scientific and medical communities worldwide and in the Middle East.
According to the study, parental consanguinity has been associated with both male and female infertility in multiple cases.
In females, it prematurely reduces the ovarian reserve i.e. the bank of fertile eggs in women. Among the males, it causes chromosome Y abnormalities, leading to genetic sperm defects.
According to Dr Fatemi, there are unique and specific factors leading to infertility - social, and cultural - which are very different from western countries.
Of particular importance to the Gulf, the factors are a higher prevalence of consanguinity, Vitamin D deficiency, obesity and the desire to have larger families.
"Today, infertility is globally acknowledged to be a major health problem. It is estimated that infertility affects 15 per cent of the global population of reproductive age, but this percentage is even higher in the Gulf," said Dr Fatemi.
"It was proven that by the age of 20, women born of consanguineous parents have an extremely low ovarian reserve, which is normally found in women from the age of 40."
"Consanguineous parents also have the risk of having a baby with genetic disorders. We at IVI Fertility, exclusively in the Middle East, offer a highly advanced genetic test, the Carrier Genetic Test (CGT). It is a simple blood test that is carried out when planning a family to prevent the risk of having a baby with genetic disorders. The CGT is highly recommended to all couples who are attempting a pregnancy by natural or IVF means," added Dr Fatemi.
Dr Human Fatemi recommends genetic testing for carriers regardless of pregnancy occurring naturally or through IVF, given the fact that a large percentage of people in the GCC are prone to genetic abnormalities.
With this test, couples can be assured of a healthy pregnancy. If both partners test positive in a CGT with the same gene mutation, the recommendation is to undertake an IVF procedure and eliminate a genetically effected embryo through preimplantation genetic screening (PGS).
"Healthy embryos have an enhanced chance of a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby," said Dr Fatemi.
Generally, parents only realise they are carriers of serious genetic disorders after an affected child is born. But genetic disorders can be prevented.