An assessment of the validity of a computer system for probabilistic record linkage of birth and infant death records in Canada. The Fetal and Infant Health Study Group

Chronic Dis Can. 2000;21(1):8-13.


Studies on the validity of probabilistic record linkage are sparse. We performed a probabilistic linkage to link the 1984-1994 birth records (obtained from the Canadian Birth Data Base) with 1984-1995 infant death records (from the Canadian Mortality Data Base) in Canada. We extracted the linked birth-death records for Nova Scotia and Alberta (from January 1990 to December 1991) obtained from Statistics Canada's vital registration data and compared them with corresponding records from provincial data (primarily hospital records). The results showed that over 99% of infant deaths (153/155) in the Nova Scotia provincial data were successfully located in the linked Statistics Canada file; the corresponding figure for Alberta neonatal deaths was also 99% (365/367). The distributions of gestational age and birth weight in matched cases demonstrated high agreement between the two data sources. We conclude that the computer system for probabilistic linkage developed by Statistics Canada using the available personal identifying variables in the Canadian Birth Data Base and the Canadian Mortality Data Base is valid.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Birth Rate*
  • Birth Weight
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Medical Record Linkage / methods*
  • Nova Scotia / epidemiology
  • Probability
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reproducibility of Results