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  1. ITV Report

One in five child deaths in Redbridge is because parents are related

A new report has revealed that almost one in five child deaths in Redbridge since 2008 has been due to people having children with their own relatives.

Redbridge Council recorded a high percentage of child deaths due to interfamily relationships

The council's Health and Wellbeing Board has been researching ways to address the continued problem of genetic abnormalities in children whose parents are closely related - so-called 'consanguineous' relationships. A consanguineous marriage is defined as one between two people who are first cousins or closer, and they are legal in the UK.

The council found that these types of marriages are most common in the Pakistani community, which is also the case in the rest of the country. Out of all of the child deaths in Redbridge between 2008 and 2016, 19% could be directly attributed to a consanguineous relationship. 9% of the deaths were from Pakistani families.

In 2009-10 the borough recorded its highest ever number of interfamily marriages. In this year, the second most common cause of child death was genetic problems.

Council officials have now begun an education programme, giving out leaflets explaining the risks of these marriages to communities in which they are common.

The council has sent out a leaflet to communities that commonly practice consanguineous relationships Credit: Redbridge Council

The leaflet, sent to ITV News, explains that while an unrelated couple have a 3% chance of their baby having a genetic defect, this is doubled to 6% in interfamily relationships. However, councillors say the practice is so ingrained in some cultures that certain communities are 'struggling to accept' the information and advice.

Schools are also being encouraged to place a larger emphasis on genetics in their science lessons, so children can learn about the risks for themselves.

The council said these measures appeared to be having an effect on reducing the number of child deaths.

Since 2009/10 we have seen a decline in deaths of children from interfamily parents, the lowest record being in 2014/15 .

It is encouraging to see this downward trend which would suggest raising awareness and providing relevant information could be a factor in reducing these child deaths.

Everyone is different and great care needs to be taken with this information. Anyone who wants to know more about the risk in relation to their personal circumstances, for example if a partner is a blood relative and there are concerns about possible effects for your children, or a prospective partner may be a blood relative, or there are concerns about a genetic disorder or disability within your extended family then please speak to your GP.

– Redbridge Council spokesperson