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For your reference, this increase in birth defect rate is about the same as the increased risk of a woman having a baby when she is 40 vs. Proponents here point out that few would advocate banning a 40 year old woman from having children. In fact, in a number of countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Yemen and in the Palestinian Territories, paternal parallel cousin marriage is the preferred form of consanguineous marriage.
The degree of cousinhood ("first," "second," etc.) denotes the number of generations between two cousins and their nearest common ancestor.
Although never outlawed in England, during the second half of the 19 century, many states began to ban marriages between first cousins, as part of a larger movement after the Civil War for greater state involvement in a variety of areas, including education, health and safety.
Researchers note that the distinction in marriage bans between England and the U. may be explained by the fact that, in the United States, the practice “was associated not with the aristocracy and upper middle class [Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were second cousins] but with much easier targets: immigrants and the rural poor.” Regardless, cousin marriage bans began popping up across the states, with the first in Kansas (1858).
Parallel cousins are the children of same-sex siblings — for example, the children of your mother's sister are your parallel cousins.
Cross cousins are the offspring of opposite sex siblings, such as your mother's brother's children, or your father's sister's children.
However, first cousin marriage is far more common, and far less dangerous, than many of us have been led to believe, as you’ll soon see.