Polygamy and disease: Intermarrying Mormon town faces genetic disaster

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Brigham Young, who led the [Mormons] back in the mid-19th Century, was a passionate believer in [polygamy]. By the time he died, his family had swelled to 55 wives and 59 children.

Fast-forward to 1990, a century after polygyny was abandoned, and the upshot was only just beginning to emerge….[A] 10-year-old boy was presented to Theodore Tarby, a doctor specializing in rare childhood diseases. The boy had unusual facial features [and] was also severely physically and mentally disabled.

[S]oon Tarby had diagnosed a total of eight new cases…from the same region on the Arizona-Utah border, known as Short Creek…In this small, isolated community of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), the likelihood of being born with fumarase deficiency is over a million times above the global average.

Colorado City is one of the two towns where the remote community live (Credit: iStock)

According to local historian Benjamin Bistline, 75 to 80% of people in Short Creek are blood relatives of the community’s founding patriarchs, Joseph Jessop and John Barlow.

“With polygyny you’re decreasing the overall genetic diversity because a few men are having a disproportionate impact on the next generation,” says Mark Stoneking, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: The Polygamous Town Facing Genetic Disaster