DNA-testing for immigration cases: the risk of erroneous conclusions
Journal article, 2007
Making the correct decision based on results from DNA analyses and other information in family reunification cases can be complicated for a number of reasons. These include stratified populations, cultural differences in family constellations, families with different population origin, and complicated family relations giving complex pedigrees. The aim of this study was to analyze the risk of erroneous conclusions in immigration cases and to propose alternative procedures to current methods to reduce the risk of making such errors. A simulation model was used to study different issues. For simplicity, we focus on cases which can be formulated as questions about paternity. We present an overview of error rates (of falsely included men as the true father and of falsely excluded true fathers) for fairly standard computations, and we show how these are affected by different factors. For example, adding more DNA markers to a case will decrease the error rates, as will the inclusion of more children. We found that using inappropriate population frequency databases had just minor effects on the error rates, but the likelihood ratios varied from an underestimation of 100 times up to an overestimation of 100,000 times. To reduce the risk of falsely including a man related to the true father we propose a more refined prior including five hypotheses instead of the two normally used. Simulations showed that this method gave reduced error rates compared with standard computations, even when the prior does not exactly correspond to reality.