Study shows rate of extreme inbreeding in the U.K. and possible health impacts of it

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A team of researchers has found a way to gauge the rate of extreme inbreeding (EI) in the U.K. and its possible health repercussions. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describes their study of data from the U.K. Biobank and what they found.

The researchers began their study by noting that not a lot of research has been done surrounding EI, which they define as reproduction between people that are closely related, such as siblings or aunts or uncles. They note that EI is considered taboo in most societies, and is very often outlawed. This has led to on the topic. To learn more about EI in the U.K., the researchers turned to the U.K. Biobank, which contains information from approximately 450,000 voluntary participants, all of whom have European ancestry.

In sifting through the data in the Biobank, the researchers looked at , specifically, for large runs of homozygosity—an indicator of close family ties between parents. They report that they found 125 cases of individuals who they believed were the product of inbreeding—a rate of one in 3,652. That number differs significantly from police incest reports, which show a rate of one in 5,247.

The researchers then looked at the health histories of those individuals and compared them with people in society at large. They report that they found that such individuals were at a slightly higher risk of a variety of health effects. They were on average slightly shorter, were less smart, and were less able to reproduce. They also were more likely to have lung function problems and were more likely to contract diseases than the average person.

The researchers acknowledge that their dataset might have been somewhat limited—people who volunteer to be tested and have their data added to the Biobank tend to be wealthy, healthy and more highly educated. That could have skewed the results. If so, the researchers suggest it likely skews low, because those with more due to inbreeding would not volunteer to as participants. They conclude by claiming that their study backs up claims of the ill health effects of inbreeding.


Explore further

First two papers based on studies using full set of data in the UK Biobank published

More information: Loic Yengo et al. Extreme inbreeding in a European ancestry sample from the contemporary UK population, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11724-6
Journal information: Nature Communications

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Sep 04, 2019
"extreme inbreeding in the U.K."
Well, that explains a lot.

Sep 04, 2019
Most of the medical impacts of extreme inbreeding affect the Pakistani community in the UK, most notably the prevalence of cousin marriages.

Sep 04, 2019
'Here, we leverage a large observational study of ~450,000 participants of European ancestry from the UK Biobank (UKB) to quantify extreme inbreeding (EI) and its consequences.'
UKB is not representative of the entire UK population, as it notably, includes healthier and more educated participants than the average population. ... may lead the prevalence of EI in the UKB to be an underestimation of the actual prevalence of EI in the UK population.

Sep 04, 2019
Most of the medical impacts of extreme inbreeding affect the Pakistani community in the UK, most notably the prevalence of cousin marriages.


Well, we don't know if such communities are included here: "participants of European ancestry", nor do you give references of medical impacts in that group.

The inbreeding between cousins is 1/4 of the inbreeding referred to in the article as "extreme inbreeding", incest within a family.

Sep 04, 2019
I have often wondered why the UK's entertainment industry has so many of the most unusual looking people.

Sep 04, 2019
When the choices of a sexual partner are limited, particularly in small towns with a small population and everyone is related to some degree to each other, what else can be expected? Will they throw themselves at every passing stranger who seems qualified to settle down in that place?
Falling in love with one's sister or cousin is to be avoided in most societies. And yet, it happens with nary a care for the impact and harm on the child born of such a relationship. Most lower grades or public high schools don't teach that extreme inbreeding is bad for one's health and welfare. As well as the health and welfare of the child that results.
Religions such as Protestantism are, for the most part, against EI and don't hesitate to prevent it if at all possible - provided that they know of it happening. But the Pastors don't generally go looking for it.
But EI happens all over, in every nation and not just in the UK.

Sep 04, 2019
Does that explain how we got a Boris Johnson. He really LOOKS inbred.

Sep 04, 2019
Does that explain how we got a Boris Johnson. He really LOOKS inbred.


He looks Nordic to me.

Sep 04, 2019

Religions such as Protestantism are, for the most part, against EI and don't hesitate to prevent it if at all possible - provided that they know of it happening. But the Pastors don't generally go looking for it.

Ya. Too busy looking for their own action...

Sep 04, 2019
Does that explain how we got a Boris Johnson. He really LOOKS inbred.

Well, it could explain Brexit, which got him there.

Sep 04, 2019
i think a sizeable percentage of the inbreeding among the population of the British Islands is probably inadvertent

the peoples of these of these Islands have a long tradition of rape culture
especially during the last millennia of constant tribal warfare & ethnic cleansing

when exported to America adding to the misery of the slave trade & modern systems of racial & gender oppression

as i warned, to hell with worrying about race
after centuries of the Peculiar Institution, pretending you are racially pure is a pathetic joke based on ignorance & outright lying about your lineage

smarter to get DNA testing before sexual reproduction
to discover if you are sharing defective genes, dominate or recessive before being entangled in a legally-binding commitment with unintended consequences

Sep 04, 2019
Some cultures and religions do not prohibit first cousin marriages, for example Muslims, Jews, Christianity (both Protestants and Catholics) all generally allowed such practices. In contrast, many East Asian countries have prohibited it for hundreds of years. Korea for example, go as far as to prohibit all couples having the same surname and region of origin from marrying. Taiwan, North Korea, and the Philippines also have similar practices and prohibit first-cousin marriage. Similar prohibition exists with Hinduism.

Wikipedia:
In the English upper and upper-middle classes the prevalence of first-cousin marriage had remained steady at between 4 and 5 per cent for much of the 19th century – that is, one marriage in every twenty to twenty-five.

Sep 05, 2019
I have always been disgusted by British teeth and the way some of them talks (accents) but this sure clarifies why it is so.

Sep 05, 2019

Religions such as Protestantism are, for the most part, against EI and don't hesitate to prevent it if at all possible - provided that they know of it happening. But the Pastors don't generally go looking for it.

Ya. Too busy looking for their own action...
says Whyde

Very unfair of you to say that, Whyde. Even some Catholic priests are genuinely dedicated to God and don't approve of or indulge in homosexuality or paedophilia. Those who are good priests will pass the test. Those who aren't will suffer in hell. Vows are not meant to be broken.
It's the same with Protestant clergy. I'm not certain whether Pastors have to make a vow that is similar to Catholic priests. Do you happen to know?
Jewish rabbis don't have to; they only have to study the Torah and Talmud.
It is interesting how a man who dedicates himself to the Church doctrines can afterward move so far away from it.

Sep 05, 2019
Does that explain how we got a Boris Johnson. He really LOOKS inbred.

Well, it could explain Brexit, which got him there.
says antigoracle

Like all other Brits, I/we have been keeping up with the news outlets regarding Brexit-No Deal. It is almost disheartening what Boris Johnson is going through in his very first year as PM.
It is the British PEOPLE who got him there, and it is THEIR desire to be rid of the EU yoke around their neck. His own brother, a Remainer, has gone against him and left his service.
So sad it is. Brother against brother.

Sep 05, 2019
isolationist reactionaries such as donnie & jeffie have a long history
which the altright fairytails pretend they can ignore

isolationism is just the cowardice of the intellectually inept
& the ,orally bankrupt
pretending that there is no world, no people outside their door
& all Time stops because the rightdolts demand it be halted
or they will have another infantile tantrum

Sep 06, 2019
[Very unfair of you to say that, Whyde. Even some Catholic priests are genuinely dedicated to God and don't approve of or indulge in homosexuality or paedophilia. Those who are good priests will pass the test. Those who aren't will suffer in hell. Vows are not meant to be broken........

@SEU
True about the vows. But, also true is, sins are meant to be forgiven, and so theirs were. What else could one expect, since those priests were printing their get out of jail free cards.

Sep 09, 2019
Why doesn't that surprise me. I have read plenty about Queen Victoria and about how royals did not want to marry her children. Let start with the House of Lords. Why does any modern day nation need separation based on "status"? Exactly what proportion of the British qualify as "lords"? The less people available under "lords" and "commoners" the less people available to marry. (Disclaimer I am prejudiced to the whole lords and servants.)

Sep 09, 2019
The "extreme" terminology chosen by the authors made me initially skeptical - I first thought it was an opportunistic click shot at the U.K. But the Nature Communications article is not paywalled, and is peer-reviewed. Lots of statistics. And because of its Biobank, the U.K. is merely a convenient source of really good data for this kind of study. The article makes no comparison of the U.K. with other countries or regions (e.g. Iceland, Utah, West Virginia, etc., etc.).

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