A meeting of Redbridge Council's health and wellbeing board heard 19 per cent of the 200-plus infant deaths between 2008 and 2016 were 'attributable to consanguineous relationships' – couples who are at least second cousins or more closely related.
The causes of death have been identified as 'genetic and congenital abnormalities', the board was told.
Council health bosses were also told nine per cent of the children who died were from Pakistani families in the borough.
According to the Ilford Recorder, Gladys Xavier, chairwoman of the Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP), told the board 'educational programmes' had been rolled out among Asian communities in the area, while schools had been asked to 'put greater emphasis on genetics' so pupils understand the complications around interfamily marriages
Meanwhile, the Recorder said the council's director of public health, Vicky Hobart, defended the statistics and said the report should not be 'misunderstood'.
According to the paper, she said: 'Consanguinity is very common in many cultures and the worry with something like this is that we are dealing with very small numbers.