Consanguineous marriages are strongly favoured among the populations of South India. In a study conducted on 407 infants and children, a total of 35 genetic diseases was diagnosed in 63 persons: 44 with single gene defects, 12 with polygenic disorders, and seven with Down's syndrome. The coefficient of inbreeding of the total study group, F = 0.0414, was significantly higher than that previously calculated for the general population, F = 0.0271, and autosomal recessive disorders formed the largest single disease category diagnosed. The results suggest that long term inbreeding may not have resulted in appreciable elimination of recessive lethals and sub-lethals from the gene pool.
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