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Background: Pakistan has been showing consistently the highest prevalence of consanguinity. The popularity of consanguineous marriages is not declining in the country, because of social, cultural, and religious beliefs as well as economic advantages. However, couples also face various health-related implications, such as poor pregnancy outcomes or multiple reproductive and fertility consequences, having adverse effects on mothers and their children. This research investigated the trend of consanguineous marriages and their association with women’s reproductive health and fertility behavior in Pakistan from 1990 to 2018. Methods: This study is based on secondary data analysis, using all four waves of the Pakistan Demographic Health Surveys carried out from 1990 to 2018. The analysis is limited to women aged 15–49 years, who had given birth in the previous five years preceding each survey. Sampling weights were calculated and subsequently weighted analysis was conducted. Descriptive statistics, bivariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis were performed to determine the association of consanguinity with multiple characteristics related to socio-demographics, co-variates, and women’s reproductive health and fertility behaviors. Results: The findings revealed a high but overall stable trend of consanguinity prevalence of about 63% during the last three decades. Consanguineous marriages were more prevalent amongst young and uneducated women, living in rural areas, with poorer wealth status and having less exposure to mass media to access information. A strong association of consanguinity was observed with women’s reproductive health and fertility behavior, particularly for women who gave first birth at a younger age, had multi-gravida pregnancies, multi-parity, pregnancy termination, ANC visits, and higher fertility. Conclusion: Consanguineous marriages are predominant in the patriarchal society of Pakistan. Findings revealed that consanguinity contributes significantly to women’s reproductive health and fertility behaviors. Appropriate counseling, educational, and health promotional programs related to consanguinity should be designed and launched at the community level to raise awareness about risks towards women’s reproductive health and fertility.
Iqbal, S., Zakar, R., Fischer, F., & Zakar, M. Z. (2022). Consanguineous marriages and their association with women’s reproductive health and fertility behavior in Pakistan: secondary data analysis from Demographic and Health Surveys, 1990–2018. BMC Women’s Health, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-022-01704-2