Consanguinity and stillbirths #general


Richard Stower
 

I am not a doctor or a geneticist so I have not dived deeply into the subject but I have notices that in several branches in my family tree an unusually high incidence of stillbirths. What could possibly be the cause of one woman have seven still borns out of fourteen births?

Was it really that common that first cousins would marry each other? Did anyone back 250/200 years ago make a connection between stillbirths and consanguinity? Did the insular Jewish community discourage it? Aside from the inbreeding it surely must have been devastating to the mother.

Just wondering.

Richard Stower
Yarmouth, Maine
 
Researching Kolomyya: SECHESTOWER, SPIERMAN, THAU, BEISER, GRAFF, ROSENKRANZ
 
Chortkiv/Budaniv: GROSS, FELLNER, HOCHMAN
 
Dobrowa Tarnowską: KANNER, SCHMIDT
 
 


Mike Coleman
 

Sadly, this can be the result of maternal syphilis.


Where in the sequence of the fourteen births did the seven stillbirths occur?

I have read (but unfortunately cannot provide the basis) that the effect of the mother's infection on the foetus may lessen over time such that, in a series of births, the later may have an increased chance of survival in at least the short term.

Hence my question.

If the stillbirths were clustered at the beginning that might be a significant indicator.

 

 

Mike Coleman   London  U.K.

 

 

 

 


Stephen Weinstein
 

On Mon, Aug 1, 2022 at 01:10 PM, Mike Coleman wrote:

can be the result of maternal syphilis.


Where in the sequence of the fourteen births did the seven stillbirths occur?

I have read (but unfortunately cannot provide the basis) that the effect of the mother's infection on the foetus may lessen over time such that, in a series of births, the later may have an increased chance of survival in at least the short term.

Hence my question.

If the stillbirths were clustered at the beginning that might be a significant indicator

If they were clustered, but not at the beginning, that too could be an indicator.  She wasn't necessarily infected before the first pregnancy.
 
--
Stephen Weinstein
Camarillo, California, USA
stephenweinstein@...


Jill Whitehead
 

In my family first cousin marriages were common, and poor health provision in past times did not help. All families had to cope with still births before the 20th century, and with first cousin marriages there were the dangers of children with deformities, learning difficulties or similar. My great grandparents were first cousins, and of their eight children, they lost the first three shortly after birth in the1870s in Edinburgh where public heath was poor, due to limited sanitation and poor housing. It certainly had nothing to do with syphilis in a very religious god fearing family, descended from the Rabbis of Vishtinetz.

We cannot assume the same conditions prevailed today as in past times - it is only from the 20th century that proper public health services prevailed and there were advances in maternal and child health, and availability of medicines and vaccines. In the 19th century births were at home and not in hospital, and so cleanliness was not of such a high level, and there was a lack of awareness of procedures to follow. The most common statistic I recall from my history lessons is that in the 19th century one in five children died under the age of five. This applied across the board, and not just to first cousins.

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK


suemo63141@...
 

Regarding the topic of consanguinity, although there is longstanding cultural bias against cousin marriages, there is very little evidence that such marriages increase risk over what is existent already in the population. Where the population is large, defects are infrequent, and risk therefore small. Where the population is small (e.g tiny villages, shtetls, decimated groups) defects may by chance be more frequent, and the risk higher, but cousin marriage will not be more risky than marriage between any other couple in the small population. This is the founder effect, and it is an issue of note in the bottlenecked Ashkenazi gene pool. 
For reference see: "Forbidden Relatives, The American Myth of Cousin Marriage" Martin Ottenheimer ISBN 0-252-06540-9
--
Susan Cullen SCHWARTZ


Michele Lock
 

My paternal grandparents were first cousins, from the area around Zagare, in northern Lithuania.

I suspect that most of the marriages of their ancestors in the preceding 100 years were also amongst the Jewish population of that town and nearby towns.

In my case, there is definitely an increased incidence of certain diseases in my family. My grandparents had 4 children who lived to adulthood. My paternal grandfather was a type 2 diabetic, and 3 of those 4 children became diabetic in their later years. My paternal grandmother died of leukemia in her 70s, and two of her 4 children died of lymphoma in their 70s (leukemia and lymphoma are related blood cancers). I myself have developed a pre-lymphoma type condition, that so far hasn't become agressive. 

If in a large population the first cousins John Smith and Joan Thompson in the US marry each other, and their ancestors came from different parts of Europe, from a variety of ethnicities, then I can understand that there wouldn't be any health risks of such first cousins marrying. But when the first cousins are from a small community that has been intermarrying for several generations, and they are all of the same ethnicity, I think that is a different ball of wax.

As for stillbirths and cousin marriages - if these stillbirths occurred in the US, I think the death certificates of the infants might shed some light on what the situation was. My maternal grandmother had a stillborn child, and the death certificate stated that it was a pre-term birth 2 months premature. 

Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Rabinowitz in Papile, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus


Albert Braunstein
 

Not true. There are many articles in the medical literature which disagree with Oppenheimer who is an anthropologist and not a geneticist. Studies show that cousin marriages are twice as likely to have genetic disorders, such as, thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, Down's syndrome... See for example the article "Keeping it in the family: consanguineous marriages and genetic disorders" in the British Medical Journal in 2019, page 365.
 
Albert Braunstein
Melbourne, Australia


Eva Lawrence
 

At a time when birth control was almost non-existent, it was far more likely than nowadays that there would also be frequent still births.  It takes time for a woman to recover her full strength after a pregnancy,  and the health of the next  baby depended on the health of the mother, as did that of the newly-born.

The prevalence of twins in a family is known to be genetic. Looking at the records from family pages, it was particularly common for one or both of a pair of twins not to survive even the first month. The birth weight is usually less for twins, and the competition for care and attention after birth is even greater than normal. All these are factors contributing to neo-natal death without looking for any sign of contracted disease

One strange and imponderable factor is the mother's attitude. I know of cases where adopting a child resulted in a new, long-wanted baby being born to a woman. It is possible that, conversely, the despair of series of  still-births could affect the woman's mentality to result in more.

Eva Lawrence 

St Albans, UK

 
 

--
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.


Robert Weinberg
 

Not wishing to disagree or become contentious, the posting of Susan Cullen Schwartz is simply inaccurate and misleading.  There are multiple statements that she makes that simply make no sense genetically.  "Where the population is large, defects are infrequent" simply ignores the fact that recessive alleles (which we all carry) become apparent in newborns (and later in life) if the parents are consanguineous, independent of the overall size of the breeding population.  "Where the population is small.." is also inaccurate.  The frequency with which individuals carry recessive alleles is unaffected by population size. (Indeed, on the contrary, in small endogamous populations that remain so over multiple generations, the deleterious recessive alleles are weeded out, albeit at a very low rate per generation.) The Israeli Arab populations, especially the Beduin, represent a treasure trove for human geneticists precisely because first-cousin marriages are so common among them, revealing heritable genetic defects that otherwise would be inapparent in an out-breeding population.  Bob Weinberg, biologist


avivahpinski@verizon.net
 

The Jewish population in Eastern Europe often married within a small group, and often married cousins.  In addition, there were many instances where, for example, two brothers married two sisters.  This results in "endogamy" and the extremely large number of matches that Jews get when they do genetic testing for genealogy.  Endogamy is the reason for many genetic diseases.  In addition to Tay Sachs, which has basically been eradicated, there are other genetic defects which cause diseases such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 defects.  The BRCA defects which occur heavily in the Jewish population can cause breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer and  pancreatic cancer.  There are also genetic defects that can easily be tested for colon cancer.

Many of the genetic defects can now be successfully monitored and treated early, if needed.  Michele Lock notes that she has a pre-lymphoma condition which is apparently familial. Medicare and other health insurers are now paying for genetic testing.  I urge everyone to look into testing at a medical center, especially if there is some disease pattern in your family, such as any of the BRCA related diseases, as well as colon cancer and many other diseases.  This can be a life saver for you and your descendants.  If possible, I recommend broad testing rather than a targeted test such as the BRCA test which is often limited to the three defects that occur in the Ashkenazi population.  For example, there are different BRCA defects that occur in the Sephardic population.

Avivah R. Z. Pinski
near Philadelphia, PA, USA 

Researching: Zuchman in Sarnaki, Karczew, and Warsaw, Poland 
Reznik in Drohiczyn, Siemiatische, Poland 
Kopekin & Rifczes in Lemberg, Vienna, Polatsk, and Besonkovich 
Familiant and Koifman in Bessarabia and Ukraine 
Sondak in Vitebsk, Belarus and Rehitza, Latvia 
Aginsky and Slonimsky in Minsk 
                      
                                  
                             
                                    
                                        
                                          
                                            
                                            
Re: Consanguinity and stillbirths #general
From: Michele Lock
Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2022 21:05:08 EDT

My paternal grandparents were first cousins, from the area around Zagare, in northern Lithuania.

I suspect that most of the marriages of their ancestors in the preceding 100 years were also amongst the Jewish population of that town and nearby towns.

In my case, there is definitely an increased incidence of certain diseases in my family. My grandparents had 4 children who lived to adulthood. My paternal grandfather was a type 2 diabetic, and 3 of those 4 children became diabetic in their later years. My paternal grandmother died of leukemia in her 70s, and two of her 4 children died of lymphoma in their 70s (leukemia and lymphoma are related blood cancers). I myself have developed a pre-lymphoma type condition, that so far hasn't become agressive. 

                '                      .  .       .     . . . .
Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Rabinowitz in Papile, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus

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Mark Halpern
 

Dear Eve:

As a fraternal twin myself with grandnieces who are identical twins, I must correct what is a minor part of your posting. Fraternal twins can definitely be genetic within families, but identical twins are not. Identical twins are a quirk of fate when one egg is fertilized and then breaks in two.

Mark Halpern
Conshohocken, PA, USA

On 2022-08-03 5:17 am, Eva Lawrence wrote:

At a time when birth control was almost non-existent, it was far more likely than nowadays that there would also be frequent still births.  It takes time for a woman to recover her full strength after a pregnancy,  and the health of the next  baby depended on the health of the mother, as did that of the newly-born.

The prevalence of twins in a family is known to be genetic. Looking at the records from family pages, it was particularly common for one or both of a pair of twins not to survive even the first month. The birth weight is usually less for twins, and the competition for care and attention after birth is even greater than normal. All these are factors contributing to neo-natal death without looking for any sign of contracted disease

One strange and imponderable factor is the mother's attitude. I know of cases where adopting a child resulted in a new, long-wanted baby being born to a woman. It is possible that, conversely, the despair of series of  still-births could affect the woman's mentality to result in more.

Eva Lawrence 

St Albans, UK

 
 

--
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.


jbonline1111@...
 

My maternal grandparents were cousins, though I do not know whether they were first cousins.  Their first child was stillborn, but they went on to have 3 sons and a daughter, my mother, all healthy.  Though my grandmother died in 1935 of heart disease, we don't seem to have any more frequent heart disease than any other family.  Two of the sons eventually died of heart disease, but one was 88 when he died, the other closer to 60.  My mother lived to age 83 and the youngest son to his late 80s.  

While my paternal grandparents were probably not related (there is little information about my grandmother's family), one of their three sons was diabetic (probably type 2) and one of their great-grandsons has type 1 diabetes. His cousin from his father's (non-related) side also has type 1 diabetes.  But type 1 and type 2 are two separate diseases, despite the common name. 

My point is simple: certain diseases were and remain quite common and may not have anything to do with consanguinity.  Furthermore, diseases that caused early death in my grandparents (3 died by age 44 and younger from 1917 through 1935)) are unlikely to cause early death now, due to better nutrition and medicine. 

As for syphilis, there is nothing about "very religious" people that would prevent them from contracting the disease. There was no cure until the early 20th century.  People stray regardless of professed or perceived religiosity and the disease was not uncommon in the last two centuries.  (https://jmvh.org/article/syphilis-its-early-history-and-treatment-until-penicillin-and-the-debate-on-its-origins/)
--
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC


Robert Weinberg
 

The post of Aviva Pinsky contains certain information that is not correct and might well be corrected. She writes that when two brothers married two sisters this was an example of endogamy.  In fact, this has nothing to do with endogamy, which only occurs when the two mates in a marriage (or pairs of mates in many marriages) are related genealogically to one another, which is unrelated to the case that she cites. She writes that Tay-Sachs disease has basically been eradicated.  In fact, newborns with Tay-Sachs disease are few in number because potential mates who both carry the Tay-Sachs gene are discouraged from marrying, and if they do marry, to undertake prenatal examination to ensure that the fetus will not emerge into the world with the disease. However, ironically, the practice of not allowing such couples to marry will stabilize the frequency of the disease gene in the Ashkenazi population (or slightly slow down the rate of its elimination), so the need will exist perpetually to monitor for the disease in those who are considering marriage. She writes that "Many of the genetic defects can now be successfully monitored and treated early, if needed. " . In fact, the great majority of inborn disease conditions cannot be effectively treated.  Bob Weinberg, biologist


Jill Whitehead
 

I quote from Alice Reid in Population Studies (2001), an academic and learned British journal, "Infant mortality has been connected to nutrition, the environment, and levels of fertility, among other factors.....Neonatal mortality, occurring in the first month after birth, is dominated by endogenous causes - those influenced predominantly by genetic make-up or circumstances arising before or during birth.  Infants suffering from congenital malformations, low birth weight, and prematurity are at particular risk from neonatal mortality and vulnerable to any physical condition of their mothers that affects their capacity to provide adequate milk."

She goes on to say that infant mortality peaked in the late 17th century remaining at around 100 per thousand live births until a sustained fall in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She quotes Wrigley (1998) who argued that the fall in infant mortality was driven by a fall in endogenous mortality (e.g. death due to genetic factors). In the 19th century we had industrialization leading to a greater move to live in urban environments, and a lot more travel and migration when travel options widened. These in turn led to improvements in public health, and new scientific ways of dealing with pregnancy, maternity and child birth, which often involved better nutrition and education. 

In the case of my great grandparents in Edinburgh, the single most important improvement in their lives, and their children's lives, was the introduction of a proper sanitation system in the early 20th century. The birth rate decreased as prosperity, education and public health measures increased, and as the birth rate decreased the incidence of still births decreased. Awareness of the potential impacts of first cousin marriages meant that in the next generation born in Scotland, these greatly decreased and marriage partners were found from further afield. 

There is a lot of academic literature on still births and the impact of first cousin marriages - and these are mostly linked to environmental and health improvements in the general population. 

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK


Michele Lock
 

I just happen to have a measurement of the effect of having a set of grandparents who were first cousins, in my case the paternal set. 

From Ancestry DNA, I have a maternal first cousin once removed (i.e., a first cousin to my mother) - with this person, I share 468 cM of DNA over 25 segments, with the longest being 87 cM. Ancestry gives a 89% probability that this most likely is a first cousin once removed, which is accurate.

I also have a DNA match who is a paternal first cousin once removed (i.e., a first cousin to my father) - with this second person, I share 739 cM of DNA over 34 segments, with the longest being 63 cM. Ancestry gives a 87% chance of this being a first cousin. In fact, this paternal first cousin once removed is my highest DNA match. I share more DNA with him than with any other match that I have, including a maternal first cousin. It is as if we are of the same generation. 

One other oddity about my paternal grandparents - they both looked very unlike each other.  Interestingly, their 5 children all looked completely different from each other. Rather odd, considering the amount of DNA they all shared.
--
Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Rabinowitz in Papile, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus


Sarah L Meyer
 

Jews not only accept but condone first cousin marriages.  Last week's Parsha  Massei, which concludes the book of numbers ends with the discussion of the 5 daughters of Zelophaphad.  Their father died in the Wilderness and they had no brother.  They asked Moses for his share of inheritance in the land of Israel.  This was granted but male members of the tribe said that the land would pass out of the tribe if they married out of the tribe. during the Jubilee.  The conclusion was they must marry within the tribe.  The conclusion was that they married their father's brother's sons!   So they married their first cousins - and from that day forward Jews have married first cousins.  I have some of this in my family - similar to what others have seen but not a lot.  My mother told me that her father (my Zeidi) wanted me to marry my first cousin.  Fortunately - we did not.  
--
Sarah L Meyer
Georgetown TX
ANK(I)ER, BIGOS, KARMELEK, PERLSTADT, STOKFISZ, SZPIL(T)BAUM, Poland
BIRGARDOVSKY, EDELBERG, HITE (CHAIT), PERCHIK Russia (southern Ukraine) and some Latvia or Lithuania
https://www.sarahsgenies.com


EdrieAnne Broughton
 

This is not just in Jewish families.  My great great grandparents were double first cousins when they married in 1861.  This was 1 marriage of five marriages over a ten year period.  Four sisters and one brother married four brothers and one sister.  Their parents were one set of siblings and one set of 1st cousins, once removed.  In this case they had moved from the far north of Maine to the 'frontier' of Pennsylvania with a newly minted Methodist circuit rider.  This family had had previous cousin marriages for several generations back to 1776.  When you wanted to marry inside a 'new' religion sometimes you had to marry a cousin, marry outside your religion or not marry at all.  Not much of a choice really.  I have similar experience in several Quaker lines in the other branch of my family.  These families had a higher incidence of stillbirths, and early childhood deaths but it had more to do with TB coming back with soldiers of the Civil War and rigors of the frontier than genetic diseases rising to the front.  Makes DNA analysis a real adventure.  
EdrieAnne Broughton
Vacaville, California