In 2006, Australian researchers from the University of Queensland started to build the UK Biobank for genetic data. The study aimed to investigate the relationship between people’s DNA and their likelihood of developing certain diseases. What they discovered was surely unexpected: More than 13,000 people in the UK are likely to be a result of “extreme inbreeding” between close relatives.
According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they saw on the news or read in history books, the study published in the journal Nature Communications showed that the prevalence of extreme inbreeding was far higher than previously thought. The researchers found evidence of inbreeding in 1 in 3,652 people although other estimates of extreme inbreeding in England and Wales were reportedly 1 in 5,247.
|UK Biobank / Screengrab from: Biobank and YouTube via All That's Interesting|
The study focused on extreme inbreeding, which includes relations between first- or second-degree relatives, such as siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. They assessed the data of 456,414 people aged 40 to 69 who voluntarily submitted their genetic information between 2006 and 2010. The researchers then looked at the homozygosity of people’s genomes, which occurs when a person has identical stretches of genotypes. If a person had more than 10 percent homozygosity, extreme inbreeding was more than likely the cause. The researchers discovered 125 cases of this.
|UK Crowd / Photo by: Flickr via All That's Interesting|
However, there have been some issues about the reliability of the findings. This is because most of the participants were clearly eager or neutral in submitting their genetic information. Meaning, they are more likely to be healthier than average and had a higher level of education than most. “Highly inbred individuals who suffer severe health consequences may be less likely to participate in a study, such as the UK Biobank. Therefore, our estimate of the prevalence might be too low,” the authors wrote.
|DNA / Photo by: Pixabay via All That's Interesting|