Prevalence and Associated Factors of Genetic Disorders and Congenital Abnormalities in Consanguineous Marriages in Afghanistan

Abass Ali Ramozi , Ali Ahmad Yousefi , Mirwais Ramozi , Abdullah Rastin , Ehsan Shayan


Background: Consanguineous marriage, the union between two individuals closely related, is a prevalent practice in Afghanistan, with an estimated 46.2% of all marriages being consanguineous. This practice is driven by various factors, including cultural traditions, beliefs in strengthening familial bonds, and ease of finding a suitable spouse within the extended family. However, consanguineous marriages have been associated with an increased risk of genetic disorders in offspring. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence and associated factors of genetic disorders and congenital abnormalities in a group of couples with consanguineous marriage in Afghanistan. Methodology: A cross-sectional study design was employed to recruit 131 couples with consanguineous marriage from various hospitals in Kabul, Afghanistan. Participants were selected on questionnaire from registered patients admitted to the hospitals based on their marital status, consanguinity, and reasons for visiting the doctor, including marital problems, childlessness, repeated abortions, congenital and genetic diseases in their children. Data were collected on demographic characteristics, medical history, physical examination findings, and genetic testing results and descriptive statistics (mean, median, mode, standard deviation, variance, frequency) conducted. Results: The study findings revealed that 30% of the participating couples had children with genetic disorders. Among these couples, 59% of the cases were associated with first cousin marriages. The most common type of consanguineous marriage was first cousin marriage, accounting for 61.8% of all consanguineous marriages. These findings highlight the significant association between consanguineous marriage and the prevalence of genetic disorders in Afghanistan. Conclusion: This study delves into Afghanistan's common practice of consanguineous marriage, particularly first cousin unions (over 60%). Worryingly, it reveals a stark link between this practice and an increased risk of children with genetic disorders. While details require further exploration, these findings highlight the crucial need for accessible genetic counseling and education to empower couples to make informed choices regarding their reproductive health and future generations.

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