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Databases in the study of population genetic structure: The demographic database in Ume, Sweden

Egerbladh, I. and Bittles, A.H. (2004) Databases in the study of population genetic structure: The demographic database in Ume, Sweden. In: Genetics and Population Health, 8 - 10 August 2004, Fremantle, Western Australia


The DDB contains the life histories of individuals and their families, based on the parish record books of the Swedish Lutheran church, with data covering the 18th and 19th centuries to a maximum depth of ten generations. The DDB databases ( are designed for research across a broad range of fields, and the information is readily accessible to researchers. A current study is based on consanguineous marriage in the Skellefte region of northern Sweden. First cousin marriage was banned by the Lutheran church until 1680, and then was subject to royal approval until 1844. Between 1720 and 1899 there were 14,639 marriages in the study region. By constructing extended family pedigrees from the parish books and complementary data sources, it has been shown that 20.8% of marriages were between consanguineous couples, ranging from first cousins (F=0.0625) to sixth cousins once removed (F=0.000006). The frequency and types of consanguineous marriages changed through time in apparent response to both religious and civil legislation, with first cousin unions increasing in number and prevalence during the course of the 19th century. To date, investigations have concentrated on the effects of consanguinity on spousal fertility, and offspring mortality. Future work aims to examine the relationship between consanguineous marriage and specific disease genes present at high frequency in the local population.

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