A new report from the London Borough of Redbridge has revealed almost one in five of all child deaths in the area since 2008 were down to their parents being close relatives.
The statistic was discussed at a meeting of the Redbridge Council Health and Well-being Board on Monday, with the matter of child fatality being raised.
The council’s report found between 2008 and 2016, 19 per cent of child deaths in the borough were caused by infants being born to “consanguineous relationships” — marriage or otherwise sexual relations between couples who are first cousins or closer.
The recording year of 2009-10 saw the highest number of child deaths in the period. Of all deaths in that year, the second greatest cause was “chromosomal, genetic or congenital abnormalities”.
Overall, 65 per cent of child deaths occurred before the age of one.
The Ilford Recorder reports the remarks of Child Death Overview Panel Chairman Gladys Xavier who told the meeting there were ongoing education programmes targeting Asian communities in the area to address the prevalence of incest, which the paper referred to as a “continued problem”.
The council has also asked local schools to emphasise the teaching of genetics to children.
The 2011 census found that 41 per cent of Redbridge residents identified as Asian or Asian British, and the religious makeup of the area was 36.8 per cent Christian, 23.3 per cent Muslim, and 11.4 per cent Hindu.
Concerns over consanguineous relationships in Redbridge focus around particular communities in the borough, with the report stating the practice “is most common among Pakistani communities”, and the same pattern can be observed in Redbridge.
Of all child deaths in the area in the time studies, nine per cent were to Pakistani ethnicity parents and were the “result of genetic complications arising from having related parents”.
Despite the attempts to reach out to these communities, there was a concern the educational drive was falling on deaf ears.
Councillor Joyce Ryan told the board meeting: “Although everyone is battling hard at this it is something that some communities struggle to accept and sometimes do not want to accept.”
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