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BIRMINGHAM, U.K., February 22, 2001: Coming from a culture where the marrying of first cousins is acceptable, the practice is prevalent among the Pakistani Muslim community. The only reason these marriages are being questioned by Birmingham health authorities is because of the high mortality rate of children born from these unions. In a community where 80 percent marry close relatives, genetic disorders that cause mental retardation or blood disorders are also evident. Defective genes that run in the same family have a greater risk of manifesting genetically when close relatives marry. Community health prevention trainer Karamjeet Ballagan who initiated the awareness campaign said, "What the community told us is they want the health authority to provide some sort of genetic test for people getting engaged to find out if their genes are affected." A number of Hindu communities also practice "cross-cousin" marriage, which is considered in Western countries too close for genetic diversity.