Inter-family marriages hampering young couples’ fertility

UAE couples in 20-30 age group sharing similar ancestors are finding it more difficult to have children, says UAE clinic

Abu Dhabi: The long-standing cultural practice of marrying cousins in the region may be decreasing fertility prevalence in the UAE among young married couples, says a UAE-based fertility clinic.


New analysis suggests that consanguinity — couples sharing a similar ancestor within the same culture — is making it more difficult to have children, said IVI Middle East Fertility Clinic on Tuesday.

New analysis revealed “that of every 1,000 patients that come to the clinic, the age group of 20 to 30 is also witnessing a surge in both male and female infertility factors. The average percentage from this group is almost 15 per cent of the total patient count which is the second highest.”

In a statement, the clinic said there has also been “a steady increase in female infertility cases among Emirati couples from this age group”.

Recent research by IVI Middle East counsellors suggested that the infertility prevalence rate remains highest in the age group of 35-40 in the region.

The clinic said infertility conditions are triggered by causes that are specific to the population of this region.

“While lifestyle and eating habits are two critical factors that have led to an increase in infertility with the local age group between age 20 and 30, consanguinity is another very important reason for the increase in such cases among the Emirati population,” said Professor Dr Human Fatemi, subspecialist, Reproductive Medicine and Reproductive Surgery, and medical director of IVI Middle East Fertility Clinic.

IVI Middle East Fertility Clinics are a part of the world leading IVF institution and enjoy a success record of 160,000 births worldwide.

Almost 80 per cent of the clinic’s patients in the UAE are local, the clinic said.

“It seems that Emirati families face increased incidences of infertility. In females, parental consanguinity leads to a low ovarian reserve and due to rare sun exposure of the skin, Vitamin D deficiency is very common. Other factors are unhealthy diets and diabetes. Similarly, male infertility is related to obesity, excessive smoking, possible steroid consumption for bodybuilding and largely consanguinity,” said Dr Barbara Lawrenz, consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, IVF, IVI Abu Dhabi.

Until the last few decades, women throughout the region typically married while still in their teens or early 20s. However, with changing times, women give more importance to their careers and delay child-bearing which is also a contributing factor to rising infertility.

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