June 09, 2005
An Amish Paradise?

Nearly everyone in America has heard about Amish genetic problems, but this WJZ13 Baltimore News story is the first I've seen to go into any real detail about just what this really means:

The Amish make up only about 10 percent of the population in Geagua County in Ohio, but they’re half of the special needs cases. Three of the five Miller children, for example, have a mysterious crippling disease that has no name and no known cure.

Their father, Bob Miller, says he realizes there is a crisis in the community, which is why he and two other fathers, Irwin Kuhns and Robert Hershberger, have agreed to break a strict Amish rule that forbids them to appear on camera. The three sat for an informal interview.

The only thing that puzzles me is why these things should "suddenly" manifest now? I have a feeling they've probably been having these problems for a lot longer, and only now are realizing a) that they really are biological problems and b) that there are cures. Whether or not the Amish will take them, well, that's a different story.

Jeff gets a medical no-prize for bringing us this inside look at one of the more puzzling sub-cultures in America.

Posted by scott at June 09, 2005 09:59 AM

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The only real cure for this problem is for them to 'marry out'. I suspect that won't happen and that the Amish will slowly die out.

It's "Gottes Wille." Or, one could also say that it's a law of nature that populations with insufficient genetic diversity will be unlikely to survive (the problem is often noted by those trying to bring back almost extinct animal species).

Their genes will survive, enough of their young leave. But their culture and beliefs will die if they can't adapt.

Note: the Saudis have the same problem.

Posted by: Kathy K on June 9, 2005 08:58 PM
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