June 9, 2005

Autism Rate - US 1:166, Amish 1:15,000

The Age of Autism: One in 15,000 Amish
By Dan Olmsted
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

Washington, DC, Jun. 8 (UPI) -- The autism rate for U.S. children is 1 in 166, according to the federal government. The autism rate for the Amish around Middlefield, Ohio, is 1 in 15,000, according to Dr. Heng Wang.

He means that literally: Of 15,000 Amish who live near Middlefield, Wang is aware of just one who has autism. If that figure is anywhere near correct, the autism rate in that community is astonishingly low.

Wang is the medical director, and a physician and researcher, at the DDC Clinic for Special Needs Children, created three years ago to treat the Amish in northeastern Ohio.

"I take care of all the children with special needs," he said, putting him in a unique position to observe autism. The one case Wang has identified is a 12-year-old boy.

Like stitchwork in an Amish quilt, Wang's comments extend a pattern first identified by United Press International in the Pennsylvania Dutch country around Lancaster, Pa.

-- A Lancaster doctor who has treated thousands of Amish for nearly a quarter-century said he had never seen any autism. "We're right in the heart of Amish country and seeing none -- and that's just the way it is," that doctor said last month.

-- An Amish-Mennonite mother with an adopted autistic child said she was aware of only two other children with the disorder. "It is so much more rare among our people," she said.

-- UPI also found scant evidence of autism among the Amish in Indiana and Kentucky, two other states with sizable Amish settlements.

Ohio, with the nation's largest Amish population, appears no different. Asked if he thinks the autism rate among the Amish is low, Wang said: "I would agree with that. In this country, the Amish have less autism. Why? That's a very interesting topic. I think people need to look into it to do more research. This is something we could learn from."

Wang said the Amish boy's autism is of "unknown etiology," meaning the cause is undetermined. In response to a question, he checked the medical chart and said the boy had received routine childhood immunizations.

The Amish have a religious exemption from immunizations, and traditionally only a minority has allowed children to receive the shots. That number has been increasing, however, and Wang said most Amish parents in the area he serves do vaccinate their children, although that varies greatly by community.

The question arose because in Pennsylvania the Amish-Mennonite mother described what she said was a vaccine link to the cases. She suspects that her adopted daughter, who received immunizations both in China and again after arriving in the Unites States, became autistic because of the shots. She said a second child with autism in the community had "a clear vaccine reaction" and lapsed into autism.

Some parents and a minority of medical professionals think a mercury-based preservative in vaccines -- or in some cases the vaccines themselves -- triggered a huge increase in autism cases in the 1990s, leading to the 1-in-166 rate cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1999 manufacturers began phasing out that preservative, called thimerosal, at the CDC's request.

Most mainstream medical experts and federal health authorities say a link between thimerosal and autism has been discredited, although the director of the CDC told Congress she is keeping an open mind about the possibility.

Wang said he did not want to offer an opinion about whether the Ohio boy's vaccinations might be linked to his autism.

(A Virginia doctor told UPI he is treating six other Amish children with autism, none of them vaccinated. In four of the six cases he suspects their autism was triggered by mercury toxicity due to environmental pollution.)

Middlefield's DDC Clinic -- the initials stand for Das Deutsch Center -- opened in 2002 as a collaboration between the Amish and non-Amish communities to aid children with rare genetic and metabolic disorders.

The Amish are prone to genetic disorders because of their isolated gene pool. The clinic has identified 37 genetic diseases among its patients and formed partnerships with 10 research groups and several medical centers.

"The Clinic evolved from the desire of Northeast Ohio Amish families to find answers for their children with genetic disorders," the clinic's Web site explains. "These disorders require attention and research beyond that provided by conventional medicine."

The Amish hope "any research obtained from their efforts has the potential to benefit special needs children throughout the world. This is their gift to us."

That gift, it now appears, could also hold clues to autism.

14 comments:

Lianne said...

Hi Ginger,

Great site! I found it while Googling for stats on Amish/Menonite Austim stats. I had been curious because 5 kids I know (including my own) all have diagnosed ASD. 4 of these alone are in our church, and wanted to see the stats for the Amish because of the difference in lifestyles.

I've bookmarked your site; I hope you don't mind. As we're just starting our own journey, I think it will be informative and supportive.

Cheers,
Lianne (Toronto, Canada)

Anonymous said...

Why does everybody blame mercury? Mercury poisoning has different symptoms than autism. Look at the Cornell study that links cable television access to autism rates. When children under 3 watch lots of television, autism rates skyrocket... Mercury may play a role, perhaps with Aspergers and television creates a similar but different social disorder. It could be a culmination of things. The Amish do not vaccinate their children, nor do they watch television...

tsteele93 said...

>Why does everybody blame mercury?

Because Mercury is a nasty neuro-toxin and injecting it into an infant, that is still wiring up its brain seems like a possible way to account for the huge increase in autism in recent years.

>Mercury poisoning has different symptoms than autism.

Again, an infant is developing its brain and learning how to process the information he/she is receiving. No one is suggesting typical Mercury poisoning, they are suggesting that Mercury may affect the DEVELOPMENT of the child's brain.

>Look at the Cornell study that links cable television access to autism rates. When children under 3 watch lots of television, autism rates skyrocket...

I will - that is interesting indeed.

I'm not at all convinced that vaccines, or thimerosal in vaccines is responsible. I am convinced that the CDC and FDA handled those possibilities poorly, and as such now we will not know for sure for some time to come.

tsteele93 said...

>Why does everybody blame mercury?

Another interesting data point or two...

Autism Rates Drop After Mercury Removed From Childhood Vaccines
Mar 3rd, 2006

An article in the March 10, 2006 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons shows that since mercury was removed from childhood vaccines, the alarming increase in reported rates of autism and other neurological disorders (NDs) in children not only stopped, but actually dropped sharply - by as much as 35%.

Using the government's own databases, independent researchers analyzed reports of childhood NDs, including autism, before and after removal of mercury-based preservatives. Authors David A. Geier, B.A. and Mark R. Geier, M.D., Ph.D. analyze data from the CDC's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the California Department of Developmental Services (CDDS) in "Early Downward Trends in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Removal of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines."

The numbers from California show that reported autism rates hit a high of 800 in May 2003. If that trend had continued, the reports would have skyrocketed to more than 1000 by the beginning of 2006. But in fact, the Geiers report that the number actually went down to only 620, a real decrease of 22%, and a decrease from the projections of 35%.

This analysis directly contradicts 2004 recommendations of the Institute of Medicine which examined vaccine safety data from the National Immunization Program (NIP) of the CDC.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/38784.php

Susan said...

I truly believe the most common link is Candida/Candidiasis. My two sons have exhibited signs for their whole life, as have I. This weakens an immune system (which wouldn't be apparent to parent or MD) then once the vaccine is given (to child with weakened immune system) they have a horrible reaction. This accounts for many of the symptoms that our children have been having. I'm so angry that the doctors have not brought this to the forefront. I came across this link when originally searching a whole host of symptoms I was having. Then, the more I read, the more questions I had. This eventually lead me to questions about my children having a toxic level of yeast, and found many doctors, etc that believe this is related. We all should be pushing for more answers from the government and doctors related to our food and drugs. The food is cheaper to develop and causes this in the population and then the drug companies make money off of the medicating of children.

FedUp said...

I want to know when they'll wake up and do a study on methanol mercury used as a preservative in seeds stored in warehouses even today. Methanol mercury is a highly lethal counterpart of ethanol mercury which was and still is used in vaccines. Methylmercury is an organic form of mercury that has been used to preserve seed grain. http://www.healthcentral.com/ency/408/001651.html

Why aren't they going after seed manufactures and demanding it's removal, especially when it's considered a lethal component. What affect does it have on our bodies and the bodies of our unborn. Could the levels of methylmercury along with the levels of ethylmercury in vaccines have contributed to the epidemic of neurological disorders in children and young adults today? Could the methylmercury in the seeds have contributed to all sorts of problems in humans today such as obesity, cancer, attention deficit, hyperactivity disorders, autism, stroke, heart attack, heart disease, liver functionality, kidney disease, diabetes, infertility, asthma, arthritis, etc. etc. etc. the list goes on and on.

Timothy said...

The difference in rates between the US and this sample population is significant indeed, and I hope that scientific study goes beyond examining immunizations to explore the genetic aspect, as well as the lifestyle and dietary influences on Autism rates. While I do think the rate of diagnosis is probably much lower in the Amish community, the fact that they do get their immunizations and that there is government oversight of Amish children with special needs indicates that we would still see higher rates of diagnosis if they had the same rate of Autism.

With such a small sample population, we would know if it was completely due to diagnosis rate rather than incidence rate. Rather, we have an example of a population within the US that is not demonstrating the same transition as the rest of the population with only a few factors differentiating them. It is far better than trying to compare the US population with other countries, most of which only extrapolate statistics based on US numbers, and there are fewer differences.

I think that a diet consisting of few processed foods with less complex starches & infrequent use of antibiotics seems more likely to cause decreased incidence of Autism within the Amish than their rate of immunizations or mercury poisoning. Examine the science behind the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and you will see the perspective I am coming from.

http://autism.about.com/b/2008/04/23/do-the-amish-vaccinate-indeed-they-do-and-their-autism-rates-may-be-lower.htm

http://www.pecanbread.com/p/btvc1.html

Fitryan said...

It's hard to believe anything the CDC and FDA put out as information while they're in bed with Big Pharma. Be very careful on any reports put out by them because they just might be telling you what you want to hear. Example below:

"In 2000, the CDC met with pharmaceutical companies and the FDA in secret to review its ... See Morefindings linking Thimerosal with the dramatic rise in neurological illnesses. According to transcripts, participants were alarmed about the undeniable links between the Thimerosal and widespread brain damage in children. Dr. Bill Weil told the group, ''You can play with [the results] all you want. They are statistically significant." Dr. Richard Johnston admitted he feared his grandchild getting a Thimerosal-containing vaccine. But the group was most concerned with keeping the findings secret. ''Consider this embargoed information," said Dr. Roger Bernier, a senior director at the National Immunization Program, at the meeting's close. The CDC now says it has ''lost" the data that supported the crucial study and has persistently defied congressional requests and federal law requiring it to open up the federal Vaccine Safety Database to scientists and the public." http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/07/01/autism_mercury_and_politics/

FitRyan said...

The website I sited this quote from is:

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/07/01/autism_mercury_and_politics/

Steve said...

less to do with immunizations than it has to do with natural childbirth and no use of Pitocin or other drugs during child birth. similar stats exist with midwife records among the general population who practice drug free natural childbirth.

J.R. Herbaugh said...

TV literally turns children into zombies.

Rebecca Rosenburg said...

My autistic child has never been vaccinated. Against anything. Ever. She has also not been exposed to mercury.

I think if people started looking beyond folklore there might be a chance of learning the cause of autism.

Yukon Sara said...

Maybe it has to do more with the Amish giving birth without the use of Pitocin and other labor medications.

Unknown said...

I have been studying cancer since my brother got diagnosed last year. So, I think I know the reason Amish have such low rates of bad health. The Amish real real food. They eat raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. They also drink pure water or make their own juice from raw vegetables and fruit. Cancer, like most health problems can be prevented by a diet in real food.