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Inbreeding coefficient of

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Inbreeding, coefficient of

a statistical way of gauging how close two people are as to their genes. The coefficient of inbreeding (symbolised as f) is the probability that a person with two identical genes received both genes from an identical ancestor. Take, for example, first cousins. They share a set of grandparents. For any particular allele (gene) in the father, the chance that the mother inherited the same allele from the same source is 1/8. For any gene the father passes to his child, the chance is 1/8 that the mother has the same gene and 1/2 that she transmits that gene to the child so 1/8 x 1/2 = 1/16. Thus, a first-cousin marriage has a coefficient of inbreeding f =1/16. The added risks to the offspring of first cousins depend not only upon this coefficient of inbreeding but also upon the genetic family history and, in some cases, upon test results (as to beta thalassaemia, for instance, for first cousins of italian descent). There are always added risks from the mating of closely related persons.