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Redbridge Council still working to halt child deaths caused by interfamily relationships

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:46 16 May 2017

Redbridge Council continues to try and reduce the number of children being born to consanguineous relationships. Photo: PA

Redbridge Council continues to try and reduce the number of children being born to consanguineous relationships. Photo: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Almost one in five cases of child deaths in Redbridge since 2008 has been due to their parents being related, a new report has revealed.

At a meeting of Redbridge Council’s health and wellbeing board at the Kenneth More Theatre yesterday, councillors and healthcare specialists discussed the continued problem of young children from consanguineous marriages dying.

A consanguineous marriage refers to married couples who are first cousins or more closely related, and are not illegal in the UK.

The practice of consanguineous marriage is most common among Pakistani communities, and the same is true in Redbridge.

Of the recorded child deaths between 2008 and 2016, 9pc were of Pakistani ethnicity and died as a result of genetic complications arising from having related parents.

Overall 19pc of child deaths in the borough in those eight years were directly attributable to consanguineous relationships.

The 2009-10 municipal year saw Redbridge record its highest numbers of interfamily parents and the second highest cause of child deaths that year was chromosomal, genetic or congenital abnormalities.

Gladys Xavier, chairwoman of the Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP), told the board that educational programs were in place in many of the borough’s Asian communities.

Ms Xavier also revealed the council had asked schools to place a greater emphasis on teaching genetics so that younger people understand the perils of consanguinous relationships.

Councillor Joyce Ryan told the meeting is was “a terrible thing whenever a child dies” but worried that some of Redbridge’s communities were finding it difficult to accept the education the council was offering on the subject.

“Although everyone is battling hard at this it is something that some communities struggle to accept and sometimes do not want to accept.”

But Vicky Hobart, Redbridge’s director of public health, argued that the small number of child deaths meant large percentages should not be misunderstood.

She said: “Consanguinity is very common in many cultures and the worry with something like this is that we are dealing with very small numbers.

“It is important to note trends but we should not read too much into it.”

And Councillor Elaine Norman, cabinet member for children and young people, stressed the council has always worked to reduce the level of consanguineous relationships in the borough.

She said: “It is a very sensitive area and we are handling it sensitively and seeing results.

“We are obviously going in the right direction.”

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