Cousin Marriages
by Gary L. Foster


As I continue genealogical research I occasionally find that our grandparents married their cousins, even as close as their 1st cousins.  In times past this practice was not only common but encouraged.  For those with land and economic "positions" in society it made sense to keep the money in the family.  In rural parts of the country your family lived close by so the men could work the fields together.  Each related family produced kids who did "everything" together with their cousins.

For the past one hundred years in America their were laws against marrying your 1st cousin because of the fear of producing birth defects in their children.  Since then the National Society of Genetic Counselors has estimated the increased risk for first cousins is between 1.7 to 2.8 percent, or about the same as any woman over 40 years of age.

If you would like to read more about these findings including the fact that currently 26 states now allow first cousin marriages and that the United States has been the only country to put a restriction on marriage then click on the following websites and learn more.

Facts About Cousin Marriages

Research downplays risk of cousin marriages
By Richard Willing, USA TODAY


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