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Olmsted on Autism: 1 in 10,000 Amish

Posted Apr 04 2009 12:00am

Amish buggy Managing Editor's Note:  Dr. Max Wiznitzer of University Hospitals in Cleveland is an expert witness for the government against the families who file in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

 By Dan Olmsted

It is unanimous, apparently -- the rate of autism among the Amish is low. Really, really low. So low that if it were the same in the rest of the population, we wouldn't even be talking about the subject. Shockingly low.
 
But not so shocking that anyone feels compelled to follow up on the information or its logical implications -- not four years ago when I first pointed it out, not today when the clues it contains are more intriguing than ever -- in fact, never, never, never.
 
In April 2005 I wrote a UPI column called The Amish Anomaly that began this way: "Where are the autistic Amish? Here in Lancaster County, heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, there should be well over 100 with some form of the disorder. I have come here to find them, but so far my mission has failed ..."
 
In case anyone had any lingering doubts about the virtual absence of autism among the Amish, they were effectively put to rest on Friday night's Larry King segment when Dr. Max Wiznitzer -- defending the vaccine program, arguing autism has not increased and insisting it is a genetic disorder preset from birth, said the rate of autism in northeastern Ohio, the nation's largest Amish community, was 1 in 10,000. He should know, he said: "I'm their neurologist."

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