Consanguinity and reproductive wastage in the Palestinian Territories

Type Journal Article - Paediatric and perinatal epidemiology
Title Consanguinity and reproductive wastage in the Palestinian Territories
Volume 23
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
Page numbers 107-115
The study of the effects of consanguinity on Palestinians has only been
conducted on infant and child mortality and reading disabilities, but not on reproductive
wastage. There are conflicting findings in other studies of this risk, and with the high
rates of consanguinity and fertility in the Palestinian Territories, the study of the effect
of consanguinity on reproductive wastage is important from a public health as well as a
research position.
Consanguinity, or marriage to relatives, was found to be widely practiced in the
Palestinian Territories with rates of total consanguinity reaching 45% of all marriages in
2004. Although consanguinity was found to be decreasing slowly with time, the future
trends of consanguinity are not known due to the unstable political situation in the
territories which can have direct effects on marriage patterns.

Data from the Demographic and Health Survey of 2004 was used and analysis
was conducted using Negative Binomial regression in which incidence risk ratios (IRRs)
were calculated. For the multivariate analysis two models were created due to the
inability to include age and parity in the same model because these two variables were
found to be very highly correlated. The strongest risk factors for reproductive wastage
after controlling for other variables were found to be consanguinity, age and parity with
age presenting the highest incidence risk ratios. The analysis showed a higher significant
risk for those that have a higher level of inbreeding; in the first model which contains
age without parity, first cousin IRR= 1.33 and ‘hamola’ or from same clan IRR = 1.23.
However, when the analysis was conducted by region, the ‘hamola’ relation lost its
significance in both models in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, the significance
remained for both models; however, the risk of first cousin and hamola was nearly the
same. Standard of living, locality type and education level were not found to be
significant risk factors for reproductive wastage and could be explained by the almost
universal antenatal coverage in the Palestinian Territories regardless of the mother’s
living standards. Further research is needed to explain the discrepancies between the
findings in the two regions; in addition, awareness campaigns to explain this risk are
needed in the Palestinian Territories.

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