Evaluating pedigree data. I. The estimation of pedigree error in the presence of marker mistyping

Am J Hum Genet. 1983 Mar;35(2):241-62.


Pedigrees used in the analysis of genetic or medical data are usually ascertained from sources subject to a variety of errors including misidentification of individuals, faults in historical documents or record linkage, nonpaternity, and unidentified adoption. Genetic markers can be used to verify putative family and pedigree data through the search for inconsistencies, or genetic exclusions, between putative parents and offspring. The probability of observing an exclusion given the occurrence of an error depends upon the gene frequencies at the loci under study and the forms of error. In addition, inconsistencies can arise from laboratory errors in marker determination. Together, these problems make the proper statistical analysis of such data desirable. Here we give a model that specifies the combined effects of various kinds of pedigree error along with genetic marker error. This model allows the maximum-likelihood estimation of the rates of various forms of pedigree error and laboratory error from genetic marker data collected on putative families. The method is illustrated by applying it to data obtained from a South Pacific island population, Tokelau. From the observed distribution of genetic marker inconsistencies between the parents and offspring of putative families, derived from the extensive genealogy of this population, we are able to estimate that the error of a paternal link is 4%, the error of a maternal link is zero, and the overall system typing error is 1%.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Child
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genetic Markers*
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Paternity
  • Pedigree*
  • Probability


  • Genetic Markers