ALMOST one in five child deaths in Redbridge over the last nine years were because their parents were related.
The figures were unveiled in a report by the council’s Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP), which was presented to the health and wellbeing board at the town hall on Monday (May 15).
It shows that 19 per cent of children who died in the borough between 2008 and 2016 had “consanguineous parents”, which means they are first cousins or closer.
Consanguineous marriages are legal in the UK, providing they do not go against the Sexual Offences Act.
They are believed to be most common in the Pakistani community, which had the highest number of child deaths attributed to consanguineous birth defects in Redbridge (nine per cent).
The report also showed evidence of interfamily relationships in “Roma and Irish Gypsy” communities, but cases are most common in Asian groups.
A Redbridge Council spokesman said the number of deaths of children with related parents has fallen since 2009.
They said: “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.
“But everyone is different and great care needs to be taken with this information.
“Anyone who wants to know more about the risks of their personal circumstances, or whose partner or prospective partner may be a blood relative, should speak to their GP.”
The council has also sent out a leaflet warning people about the risks interfamily relationships.
It advises people that while unrelated couples have a three per cent chance of having a baby with a genetic disability, those odds double for interfamily couples.
Teachers in Redbridge are also being encouraged to put greater emphasis on genetics in their science lessons so children can learn about the risks for themselves.