Daily News Archive
From June 13, 2005

Amish Rates of Autism Lower Than Average U.S. Population
(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2005)
Autism rates in the Amish people in Ohio, the nation's largest Amish population, may be as low as one in 15,000 while the rest of the U.S. population is estimated at one in 166, according to an article in the Washington Times by United Press International (UPI).

A doctor who has treated thousands of Amish around Lancaster, Pennsylvania says he has never seen autism among the Amish. Scant evidence of autism exists also among the Amish in Indiana and Kentucky, two other states with sizable Amish settlements, according to UPI.

Dr. Heng Wang in Middlefield, Ohio is the medical director, and a physician and researcher, at the DDC Clinic for Special Needs Children. The clinic started three years ago out of need since the Amish are prone to genetic disorders due to their isolated gene pool. Dr. Wang takes care of all the Amish children with special needs in Ohio, putting him in a unique position to observe autism, writes UPI.

The one case Wang has identified is a 12-year-old boy. The case is of unknown cause however. In response to the reporter trying to determine any trends between immunizations and autism, Dr. Wang says that the boy had received routine childhood immunizations. The Amish have religious exemption from immunizations and though most Amish still probably do not immunize their children, changes are being seen. Dr. Wang reports that in the community he serves most do.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures rate autism in the U.S. population at 1 in 166. Many believe the high incident rate that soared in the 1990s is due to a mercury-based preservative, thimerosal, in vaccines or even in some cases the vaccines themselves.

Federal health authorities say a link between thimerosal and autism has been discredited, although the CDC told Congress there may still be some possibility, reports UPI.

A Virginia doctor told UPI he is treating six other Amish children with autism, none of them vaccinated. Yet, he suspects that the autism in four of the six cases was triggered by environmental pollution of mercury.