Kirstie and Lyle Fisher
Kirstie and Lyle Fisher initially kept their relationship a secret. They mistakenly thought it was illegal as they are first cousins. When they eventually told people, the family was shocked. Lyle’s sister says she was initially disgusted and still thinks it’s wrong. Kirstie and Lyle now have two children together. Kirstie says there’s nothing wrong with their relationship, it’s just different.
Burak Haliloglu says he’s feeling under pressure from his mother to marry a cousin back in Turkey. Burak’s parents are first cousins once removed. Although Burak says he respects his parents’ relationship, he doesn’t want to enter a relationship with a blood relative. Burak’s older sister is disabled and he says many people incorrectly assume that it’s because of his parents’ shared blood.
Hythem and Leena Damouny
Hythem and Leena Damouny are first cousins and have been married for almost thirty years. Even though they’re happily married, they don’t want their adult children to follow in their footsteps. They say they have been advised by a doctor that their children should not marry their cousins because it could create genetic problems for their offspring.
Genetics Professor Alan Bittles from Murdoch University believes there has been a major overstatement of the ill effects of cousin relationships and it’s created an unnecessary stigma. He says generally, a couple who are not related by blood has a three to four per cent chance of having a child with a congenital abnormality. When it comes to couples who are cousins, that rate rises three to six per cent.
Dr Greg Jenkins is an obstetrician at Auburn Hospital in Sydney where he treats many cousin couples. He says there are significant increases in the risk of detrimental outcomes for the children of cousin couples. They include birth defects, still births, miscarriages and pre-term babies.