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Amish Plagued By Genetic Disorders
KYW.COM ^ | June 8, ,2005 | Vicki Mabrey

Posted on 06/11/2005 1:55:31 PM PDT by NYer

It doesn’t get much more peaceful than the simple life among the Amish in rural Ohio. They have no cars, no electricity, no televisions.

But their children have medical conditions so rare, doctors don’t have names for them yet, reports correspondent Vicki Mabrey.

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 three Byler sisters were all born with a condition that has no cure and mysteriously leads to severe mental retardation and a host of physical problems. Last year, doctors figured out the girls have the gene for something called Cohen Syndrome; there are only 100 known cases worldwide.

Since then, more than a dozen other cases of Cohen’s have been discovered in Ohio Amish country.

“Nobody knew it was around here and we found, what, 20 to 30 cases in this area now that they didn't realize. Nobody knew about it, says Irwin Kuhn.

But for so many years, the Amish have had no names for these disorders. It was simply a mystery why half the headstones in Amish cemeteries were headstones of children.

The genetic problems come down to something called the "founder effect" because the nearly 150,000 Amish in America can trace their roots back to a few hundred German-Swiss settlers who brought the Amish and Mennonite faiths to the United States in the 18th century. Over generations of intermarriage, rare genetic flaws have shown up, flaws which most of us carry within our genetic makeup but which don't show up unless we marry someone else with the same rare genetic markers.

Kuhn and Miller admit these conditions have gotten more widespread in recent years. So much so that concerned families pulled together, held an auction and raised enough to build a clinic within buggy range of all the Amish. They also hired a pediatrician and researcher named Dr. Heng Wang to start caring for their children.

Kuhn’s daughter isn’t doing well at the moment, but now he can take her to the clinic every day, if needed, and the doctor has even made house calls at his home.

While 60 Minutes Wednesday was in Ohio, Dr. Wang made a house call to check on the Miller children. Bobby Junior, the sickest, can’t tell Wang what’s bothering him because he can’t even talk.

And the doctor was treating these challenging cases under the most rudimentary conditions since Amish custom prohibits electricity. Still, he doesn’t complain. In fact, he calls the heritage beautiful and says, “We are not come here to change them.”

Certain homes, like the Miller’s, have taken small steps toward change. Some with lifesaving medical equipment have asked for special dispensation from the Amish bishop to install solar panels to run the machines.

Iva Byler, mother of the three girls with Cohen Syndrome, made an even more drastic change eight years ago, after her third child in a row showed signs of this crippling disorder.

The eldest, Betty Ann, is 24 and functions at a 9-month level. Irma is 21 and functions as a 5-year-old; Linda, at age 18, can’t even sit up.

“I knew as soon as I had the third one, I knew,” she says. “They kept telling me, ‘No, she's OK. No, she wasn't. I could hear by her cry that she was gonna be like the others. Their cry is different. You can tell. After you've lived with it that long, you know.”


Now, when she needs to go to the doctor, she wheels the girls into her van. She’s left buggy rides, and the whole Amish lifestyle, behind. But the price was being shunned forever by the community, as well as her ex-husband and her two healthy adult children.


Irma’s now tuned in to the 20th century, and Iva’s plugged into the 21st. Using a genealogy web site, she’s figured out she and her ex-husband were distantly related, something that appears to be common among the Amish.

“I don't think the Amish really understand that it's a genetic disorder that causes the handicapping condition,” Byler says.

The Amish think it is God’s will; “Gottes Wille” is how they describe it.

Dr. Harold Cross, who’s from an Amish background himself, has heard that for more than 40 years, since he first discovered the high incidence of genetic problems in the Amish in the 1960s.

“Although we used state-of-the-art medical technology and genetics technology at the time,” he says, “we didn't know about the human genome. We weren't able to--to drill down and get to the specific molecular defects. So I always felt like we hadn't finished the job that we had started doing.”

He’s finishing the job now, learning by examining some of the children in Geauga County, Ohio, and teaming up with researchers in a London lab to find the actual genes that are causing the Amish disorders.

“What we're really trying to do eventually by pinning down the mutation is to find some kind of treatment,” he says. “If we can find out what went wrong, we might be able to correct it.”

They’ve already identified genes to several rare conditions, including this debilitating seizure disorder found in only 12 people worldwide, all Amish children.

There are no cures in sight yet, but these doctors are able to offer the next best thing: pre-marital testing, to help future parents avoid these tragedies.

It’s a powerful new tool for the Amish, if they choose to use it.

Despite the illnesses in his family, Miller would not use such tests. “That's our-- our lifestyle is that way. We-- we trust God to take care of that, you know? We just, just the way we—we - live.”

Joyce Brubacker, who comes from the slightly less-orthodox Mennonite faith, says at minimum the Amish and Mennonites should be testing their children as soon as they’re born. That’s what saved her daughter Shayla’s life. After her first child, Monte, died of an unusual-sounding genetic condition called Maple Syrup Urine Disease, Joyce had Shayla tested, and she was positive.

With Maple Syrup Urine Disease, the body turns protein into poison, causing brain damage. Shayla was immediately put on a strict low-protein diet. Now, she’s 20 years old and healthy.

If she had not been tested, Shayla says, “I probably would have been in a coma or died at that point, or had brain swelling which would have took me very dramatic. I mean it would just-- boom, boom, boom and I woulda been dead.”

Right now, the best prevention for many of these mutations is to prevent intermarriage, which is hard to do.

Marrying outside the faith could create a healthier gene pool, but it would also ultimately destroy the very essence of what it means to be Amish.

“I have a son that married a girl, they share the same great-great grandfather,” says Iva Byler. “And when he called me to tell me that he was gonna get married, I said, ‘Do you realize that you already stand a big chance to have a handicapped child since you have three siblings.’ And he says, ‘Yes, I know.’ He got married anyway.”


TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Current Events; General Discusssion; History; Moral Issues; Other Christian; Religion & Culture; Religion & Science; Theology
KEYWORDS: 60minutes; amish; disorders; genetics; intermarriage; mennonites
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This Amish girl suffers from a genetic disorder.
1 posted on 06/11/2005 1:55:31 PM PDT by NYer
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...

Don't the Muslims also inter marry? Definitely the straight path to obsolesence.


2 posted on 06/11/2005 1:57:36 PM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

That's what I was thinking, but I didn't want to say it.


3 posted on 06/11/2005 2:03:03 PM PDT by ET(end tyranny) (Pro 26:13 The sluggard saith: 'There is a pierced in the way; yea, a pierced is in the streets.')
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To: NYer

I see this, not to such an extent, in the Orthodox Jewish Community too.


4 posted on 06/11/2005 2:04:31 PM PDT by Coleus ("Woe unto him that call evil good and good evil"-- Isiah 5:20-21)
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To: NYer
Engage vrs. withdraw


Evidently Christianity isn't to be lived out in a commune.

Salt can't do it's job if it's left in the can.
5 posted on 06/11/2005 2:05:24 PM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: NYer

Since Muslims cross ethnic backgrounds, I don't see it would be an issue. You are more likely to see problems with small and/or remote villages that "stick to their own kind" where you may see more distant cousin/distant relative marriage.
Some small-island Greeks have issues like this likely also caused by small gene pool.


6 posted on 06/11/2005 2:13:06 PM PDT by visualops (visualops.com)
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To: visualops
Some small-island Greeks have issues like this likely also caused by small gene pool.

I recall reading, many years ago, about a group of Americans who also suffered from some genetic disorder. It was traced to one village in Portugal.

7 posted on 06/11/2005 2:28:29 PM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: PetroniusMaximus

I have Amish ancestry on my mother's side and live among the Amish,as well as Mennonites and Dunkard Brethren today in central Pennsylvania.

I have so much to say on this topic, I hope I can keep my head on straight. I intend to write a book about this someday: "Amish, Mennonites and a Dried Cultic Root" or something like that.

First of all, almost all the Mennonites we know out here are related to each other. Some are 2nd and 3rd cousins. This is pretty close considering the rest of the world's gene pool. A very close couple to us are 3rd cousins on one side and 4th cousins on the other side. Her maiden name was Martin and she married a Martin. She is now XXXX Martin Martin. Her mother was also a Martin who married a Martin.

I have also seen this with the Amish where every family in our area either has the surname of Fisher or Byler. Every single one of those families are related and all their children are close cousins.

In our children's school (another anabaptist school) the majority of familes are all cousins. So far I have not heard of any intermarriage between the cousins but nothing would surprise me.

God never intended a Christian community to be a closed community. The heavy-handed tactics of the Amish and the more legalistic Mennonite leadership encourage people to remain in their communities, and marry within them, lest they literally "lose their salvation." Indeed, salvation is dependent upon exceedingly strict adherence to various codes of behavior and dress (I think dress is the most important, since Amish children drink and party, and often get pregnant. But they better LOOK right!)

Because of these tactics (which are very cultic if you look at what constitutes cultic actions of leadership), the Amish continue to remain Amish. As a result, few if any every join their groups from outside the original gene pool of a couple hundred years ago when they emigrated here. They are not just closely related; these people are more like siblings to each other. There is no strength in the gene pool and they are LOADED with deformities.

I see the deformed Amish and Mennos all the time. One poor Amish soul I have seen for years is highly cripped but manages to slide himself around; one poor Mennonite teenager had a cleft lip that his parents never sewed shut; he used to work at our local store. Another Mennonite boy has several fingers missing. A Horning Mennonite family we are close to just had a boy born with his feet on backwards. Another Mennonite family has a baby girl who was born blind and retarded. I am friends with a former Beachy Amish woman whose cousins are Maple Syrup Urine diseased. It runs in her family. And on and on. As diseased physically as they are spiritually; it is the mirror of their condition.

This is the result or turning away from the call of God to reach the world with the gospel. The Amish and Mennonites claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, yet the majority are insular, non-evangelistic, and incestuous. This is NOT the way it was meant to be.
If it were not for their incestuous marriages and cultic leadership, they would have died out along ago, assimilated into the rest of Christianity by bringing lost souls from all nations into their fold.

Moreover, to strain out a gnat and swallow a camel is a way of life. The Amish will pay to drive in people's cars or vans but they cannot own their own. Yet, some groups will allow tractors, as long as the rubber is off the tires. Horning Mennos who must drive black cars ONLY (to be "plain") drive around in shiny, beautiful, late-model Ford Mustangs, Acuras, Saturns. I always remark to my dear Mennonite brethren when I see their cars like this: "Oh, was a beautiful FANCY car you have!" It about stops them dead.

I could go on but then it will be my book. Someday.....


8 posted on 06/11/2005 2:38:47 PM PDT by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: Conservatrix
***I have Amish ancestry on my mother's side and live among the Amish...***

Thank you for your post. It is heartbreaking to hear about those poor children.

I think the Amish/Mennonites are an enigma to most Christians. Your report of them would be a welcome education for many.
9 posted on 06/11/2005 2:59:12 PM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: NYer

I read an article in National Geographic a few years ago about Iraq. It said that the amount of inbreeding is pretty high throughout the Muslim world. Between substandard medine and a general lack of cultural empathy, one can only imagine the sad lives of those with congenital problems.


10 posted on 06/11/2005 3:00:28 PM PDT by ValenB4 ("Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets." - Isaac Asimov)
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To: NYer

***I recall reading, many years ago, about a group of Americans who also suffered from some genetic disorder. It was traced to one village in Portugal.***

I remember that. I think 60 Minutes did a show on it.


11 posted on 06/11/2005 3:00:31 PM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: PetroniusMaximus

Thanks for encouragement. I would need to find the right publisher for this kind of book.


12 posted on 06/11/2005 3:07:50 PM PDT by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: PetroniusMaximus; NYer

And most cases of Huntingdon's Chorea can be traced to a single individual from Venezuela.


13 posted on 06/11/2005 3:10:46 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: Conservatrix
You really should at least put this into manuscript form, even if you don't intend to polish it up right away.

I think a lot of people view isolated inbred populations as "quaint", and don't really consider all the consequences.

It's not so much the 3rd or 4th cousin marriages, as that in a population this small and isolated you have multiple layers of cousin marriages. The potential effect multiplies with every layer.

I used to breed and show Siamese cats, and I can tell you I was VERY careful with ANY linebreeding, and I NEVER inbred. The chances of something horrible happening are just too great.

14 posted on 06/11/2005 3:13:33 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: AnAmericanMother

Thanks. It might be an interesting summer project. It has been on my mind for years. I can speak from personal experience. My natural mother did not raise me but when I was in my 20's I met her and found out about my Amish/Mennonite heritage. Ironically I joined a very strict Mennonite community some years later and experienced first-hand the cultic nature of these groups, what happend when you first join, if you disagree, and when you leave. And moreover the abuse of children and women that I saw in the name of "submission." Tiny babies being spanked for crying. Babies left to wail because they had been fed "only a little while ago." Women told what to wear, who to be friends with, children harshy disciplined, sexual abuse covered over.

Want more?


15 posted on 06/11/2005 3:23:33 PM PDT by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: Conservatrix

Do you think some of the unwillingness to deal with the root problem (inbreeding) is due to a low level of education? I read that many Amish only attend school to the 8th grade, and don't consider education worth pursuing. Maybe if they understood more about DNA and genetics it would make a difference?


16 posted on 06/11/2005 3:25:56 PM PDT by ahayes
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To: Conservatrix
It all goes hand in hand.

Any church that exercises principles of what used to be called "strict watch care" is going to be antithetical to modern American notions of freedom.

You would probably be horrified at the lot of women in a small rural Alabama Baptist congregation circa 1840 . . . my gg grandfather was a deacon in one. I've read all the minutes.

Welcome to the nineteenth century.

17 posted on 06/11/2005 3:25:58 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: ValenB4; All
The technical name is "consanguineous marriage", consanguineous meaning "of the same blood", that is, marriage to a relative.

Intermarriage is common throughout Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, although the rate of marriages between first cousins, second cousins and other relatives in the Persian Gulf region, estimated at more than 55 percent in Saudi Arabia, is considered high by world standards.

Here is an article from the Washington Post hosted at Cornell University about the situation in Saudi Arabia.

Pinar Ozand, a Turkish doctor who has led research into genetic errors at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre here, said problems that occur once in every thousand births in a robustly mixed gene pool are being found as frequently as once in every 50 births in Saudi Arabia.

18 posted on 06/11/2005 3:35:59 PM PDT by alnitak ("That kid's about as sharp as a pound of wet liver" - Foghorn Leghorn)
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To: NYer
“If we can find out what went wrong, we might be able to correct it.”

What went wrong: inbreeding.

How to correct it: marry outside the family community.

19 posted on 06/11/2005 3:56:09 PM PDT by sweetliberty (Never argue with a fool. People might not know the difference.)
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To: AnAmericanMother

I was reading about how the Amish from one area will trade young men, say a couple of dozen, with an Amish group from another area just to help solve this problem. Does that really happen?


20 posted on 06/11/2005 3:57:33 PM PDT by Pure Country
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To: Conservatrix; AnAmericanMother; american colleen
Tiny babies being spanked for crying.

One of our catholic freepers attended an Indult Tridentine Mass in her community last year. She witnessed exactly the same thing. The freeper brought her children there to 'experience' the pre-Vatican II mass. They gasped when they witnessed this woman slap her infant across the face simply because he was crying. Amazingly, no one else even batted an eyelash. There are extremes in all religions.

21 posted on 06/11/2005 4:02:30 PM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer
The Blue People of Troublesome Creek

Don't know if this is the story you're thinking of. Don't know that this one is traced to Portugal.

22 posted on 06/11/2005 4:03:29 PM PDT by sweetliberty (Never argue with a fool. People might not know the difference.)
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To: Conservatrix
Most interesting! Thank you for sharing that with us. I personally know someone who was raised Amish. He explained to me that in the teen years, they are encouraged to go out and experience the world. When they return they must make the decision to "join" the Congregation or leave. He left.

He is quite brilliant but quirky. He took up with a group whose faith is based on some odd notion. Such a waste of talent! He has always impressed me as lost and confused.

23 posted on 06/11/2005 4:09:49 PM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: Owl_Eagle; brityank; Physicist; WhyisaTexasgirlinPA; GOPJ; abner; baseballmom; Willie Green; Mo1; ..

ping


24 posted on 06/11/2005 4:11:46 PM PDT by Tribune7
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Comment #25 Removed by Moderator

To: twin1

You'll find this interesting.


26 posted on 06/11/2005 4:37:24 PM PDT by twin2
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To: NYer
The "Founder Effect" is the cause for the high prevalence of Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome in Puero Ricans. The effects are occulocutaneous albinism, pulmonary fibrosis, blindness, etc. leading to death by age 50. About 1 in 2000 Puerto Ricans have this disease. The origin of HPS in Puerto Rico has been traced to a region of southern Spain, and a connection to cases in Holland is possible.
27 posted on 06/11/2005 4:48:33 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (I can't think of anything clever.)
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To: sweetliberty

Interesting quoate form the article, "She was as blue a woman as I ever saw."


28 posted on 06/11/2005 4:51:19 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (I can't think of anything clever.)
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To: Jeff Chandler

'quoate'?


29 posted on 06/11/2005 4:51:44 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (I can't think of anything clever.)
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To: AnAmericanMother

There are places in the US where the people have intermarried for more than 350 years. The same 30 families or so. Talk about needing "special" schools.

The Amish and Mennonites aren't the only communities with these problems. I can name at least two that are distinctly Catholic. And they aren't necessarily ultra-trads, either.


30 posted on 06/11/2005 5:03:43 PM PDT by Desdemona (Music Librarian and provider of cucumber sandwiches, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary. Hats required.)
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To: Conservatrix
I have Amish ancestry on my mother's side and live among the Amish,as well as Mennonites and Dunkard Brethren today in central Pennsylvania.

I was unaware the Dunkards still existed. The only reference I knew about them was their church along Antietam Creek in Maryland, which was a landmark during the Battle of Sharpsburg in 1862.

Thanks for the indirect update! :-)

31 posted on 06/11/2005 6:00:08 PM PDT by Bombardier (Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Reenact, and stamp out farbiness!)
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To: ValenB4

http://www.parapundit.com/archives/000113.html


32 posted on 06/11/2005 6:14:05 PM PDT by Do not dub me shapka broham ("What in the world happened to Gerard's tag-line?")
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To: Coleus; Conservatrix
It depends.

Tay-Sachs is prevalent among certain communities that are descended from Eastern European (Ashkenazim) Jews.

Though the Orthodox are complex in certain ways.

The Satmar a very insular, but the Lubavitcher are very progressive in some ways.

I suppose both have problems with intermarriage, though to a much lesser degree.

After all, I don't think that you can convert into being a Mennonite or Amish, while Reformed and Conservative Jews can-theoretically-convert to Orthodoxy if they so desire.

33 posted on 06/11/2005 6:24:24 PM PDT by Do not dub me shapka broham ("What in the world happened to Gerard's tag-line?")
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To: ahayes; All

Re: education: a very good point. It is true that they do not go to school past 8th grade. In PA where we live, however, you must have a minimum of a high school diploma to homeschool, and some Amish do homeschool, though most go to some kind of parochial school. This would be true of the "plainer" Mennonites as well. "Plainer" group such as the Eastern Mennonites and Horning Mennonites are very much against homeschooling but the more "liberal" ones do homeschool (mind you, these are still VERY conservative people! Except they do not by and large vote, though this is changing. Many Amish voted in the last election and voted for Bush.)

Many Amish use alternative medicinal treatments and seem to want to know about health issues so it surprises me they aren't more keen on this issue of inbreeding. But the point comes to this: what are you going to do when your daughter Anna Stolzfus meets her 3rd cousin Amos Stolzfus at a Sunday meeting and they fall in love? It has been done before, what is the big deal?

And actually, in most of people with defects that I personally know, the relationship between the married couples was not very close (not any cousins that they were aware of). My friends who are the 3rd/4th cousins have 6 healthy children although she did just have a miscarriage. (That can happen to anyone).

I just wonder if the genes of the original 1500 Anabaptist people (from whom I am also descended) just keep popping up genetically from time to time across the board with these people.

One of my friends has 10 children but she is VERY aware of the symptoms of MSUD (Maple Syrup Urine Disease) and has looked for signs and symptoms with each child. If you catch it within the first 24 hours, the child will not end up a brain-damaged vegetable. My one friend has 3 cousins in one family with MSUD. Imagine having three vegetable children to raise. THREE.

The real problme is that thes "quaint" people are in violation of the commandments of God by turning their backs on society and creating a world unto themselves, not bringing in new blood, literally and spiritually. They reap the consequences in their bodies.


34 posted on 06/11/2005 7:40:44 PM PDT by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: Desdemona
I wouldn't be surprised at all.

Any isolated genetic group (for whatever reason) is going to have these problems cropping up.

In the old days (like the "Blue People") it was physical isolation. These days, it's most likely a cultish sort of isolation.

It may wind up being a Delayed Shaker Effect. The effect was pretty immediate with the Shakers, since they didn't believe in marriage or intercourse and practiced complete separation of the sexes. Since none of these children with the serious genetic problems are going to reproduce, it will take a little longer but the effect will be the same. Eventually the offspring will be unable to replace themselves. I think there's ONE Shaker left at Sabbathday Lake, Maine (a late convert).

35 posted on 06/11/2005 7:44:08 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: NYer

This is true. When the Amish youth go out and party, they REALLY go out and party. It is called "wilding" (sound familiar?).

You are fine as long as (and until) you actually "join" the church. They assume you don't know better until then. After you join, they literally have your soul.

AND the problem lies in this: whom will you marry?Most Amish are not going to attract normal gals. They are usually nice but ignorant, smelly and weird socially. They will usually join the church so that they can get a spouse through the Amish community (albeit a cousin).

Their doctors and midwives need to educate them more on cause and effect.


36 posted on 06/11/2005 7:49:31 PM PDT by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: sweetliberty

Betcha their dynamite on the banjo!


37 posted on 06/11/2005 7:50:37 PM PDT by investigateworld ( God bless Poland for giving the world JP II & a Protestant bump for his Sainthood!)
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To: Conservatrix
. . . in most of people with defects that I personally know, the relationship between the married couples was not very close (not any cousins that they were aware of) . . .

It's that last phrase that's the kicker. No cousins they were aware of. If you go back into the family tree, you'll probably find multiple cousin marriages further up the line, say 6-7 generations back. Most are unknown to the descendants. My great aunt married her fourth cousin, and they did not know this until after she started researching D.A.R. stuff. They are both descended from the same Revolutionary soldier. They never had children. Probably no connection, because the rest of the family tree is generously out-crossed.

Problem is, if you have multiple cousin marriages even if very far back, the effect is exponential, not just simply cumulative. What you have is not just "double cousins" (where a couple are cousins through two different branches of the family tree) but triple and quadruple cousins. If there are only 1500 ancestors (not all of whom successfully reproduced) back in the 1600s, by now you have people who are, say, not just sixth or seventh cousins but five or six times over. In the genealogy trade, this is known as "pedigree collapse". Or, in more humble jargon, "the family tree don't fork."

We've seen this in cats and in dogs, when a popular bloodline starts cropping up all across the pedigree eight or ten generations later. Even if you don't have any in- or linebreeding in the five-generation pedigree, if there's multiple use of a single bloodline the defects will start to crop up.

38 posted on 06/11/2005 7:53:26 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: Conservatrix

they can sure cook, though...


39 posted on 06/11/2005 8:04:38 PM PDT by Flightdeck
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To: AnAmericanMother

You are absolutely right. It seems that the pedigree is collapsing pretty hard in recent generations because it seems I hear of health problems if one sort or another in almost every Amish or Mennonite family (if not THAT family, a cousin's family).

What I always tell my kids is, say hi to to the Amish because they are your cousins. Now, my it was my great-great grandmother who was the last Amish, but there have been Mennonites and Dunkard Brethren going back to the 18th century and I have traced our family tree back to the 1500's in Germany through one line. I tell my kids that we are cousins because if we go back that many generations we ARE related, we all have some common ancestor who came to Pennsylvania from Germany and Switzerland and intermarried for many generations. My mother's family eventually settled in Goshen, Indiana, another large Amish enclave but they all come from the original stock that settled in Lancaster and Berks counties in the 18th century.

Genetics is indeed a fascinating subject...


40 posted on 06/11/2005 8:06:10 PM PDT by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: AnAmericanMother

What I meant to add to the last post was that indeed, the Mennos and Amish by definition HAVE to be cousins even 6-7th generation abck, or closer. I often ask the ones that I know are related, "Oh, isn't so-and-so your cousin?" And they say, "Naw." That is because they are 3rd cousins. I think they only count 2nd cousins as being related. A very dangerous mentality. Or they will say "we are not related that we know of", even though they share a VERY common PA Dutch name. (Not names that the "rest" of the people out here have, and these are people in their own denomination!!! So perhaps that is where the trouble lies. They need to see how close is close.


41 posted on 06/11/2005 8:12:08 PM PDT by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: Conservatrix
I have two distant German ancestors from PA way, way back -- they may have been kin to these folks. A lady who rejoiced in the name of Maria Magdalena Vogelsang, born some time in the 1770s, most likely (married a man named Schnepp or Schnapp, born in 1766). Any Vogelsangs or Schnepps among the Anabaptist immigrants?

With the exception of an Ott that I have been unable to trace back to Germany from early 19th c. South Carolina, the rest of our family is exclusively British - mostly Scottish and Irish with a heavy admixture of English and a sprinkling of Welsh.

The frightening birth defects out there for those of us of almost exclusively British ancestry are the neural tube defects (spina bifida etc.) We watched the kids in utero like hawks for that one . . . and I took folic acid until it was coming out my ears. Thank heavens both born free of that trouble.

42 posted on 06/11/2005 8:15:49 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: Bombardier

Oh yes, the Dunkard Brethren still exist. My children go to a Dunkard Brethren school.
They basically dress like the conservative Mennonites except for some of the really plainer ones who wear a cape apparatus over their cape dress, and tight long sleeves in all weather. The baptize by "dunking", or immersion, in contrast to the Mennos and Amish who, like Catholics, sprinkle water on the head (but NOT on babies!!!)

One of my ancestors was Daniel Cripe, a Dunkard Brethren minster in Indiana.


43 posted on 06/11/2005 8:16:18 PM PDT by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: Conservatrix
Most folks only count the 2nd cousins.

The forbidden degrees usually only include 1st cousins - plus one more "for luck".

That's usually plenty where the cousinships aren't steadily accumulating . . . and they usually don't. Under normal circumstances even in a small Southern town the most you'll get in a marriage is double cousins on two branches.

Although when my dad was a kid in Rome, GA, he was sitting on the levee with a bunch of his schoolmates, maybe 8 or 10 guys (it was a boys' school), and they realized after some desultory conversation that they were ALL related.

Of course they almost all looked elsewhere for their brides. Dad married a girl whose parents were both from Augusta GA. We've never found any cross-matches in their family trees, and I have a solid eight generations now on ALL branches - some a good deal further back.

44 posted on 06/11/2005 8:19:48 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: NYer
Here's another classical American "founder effect" genetic disease:

Tangier Disease

by Jackie Newman

Tangier Disease is an extremely rare autosomal recessive metabolic disorder. Documentation shows that as of 1988, 27 cases of Tangier Disease had been reported (Makrides pg.465) and in 1992 the reported cases were still fewer than 50 persons worldwide (Thoene pg.265).

The majority of the cases tend to localize in one single area of the U.S., Tangier Island, Virginia. The fact that most of the people that are affected by Tangier disease all live in close proximity to one another could be due to Founder's effect. The original settlers to the island came in 1686 and it is possible that one or two of them were carriers of the disease or actually had the symptoms and passed it down through the blood line.

Characteristics of Tangier Disease include increased levels or even a complete absence of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) concentrations in one's plasma, low cholesterol levels in the plasma, increased cholesteryl esters in the tonsils, spleen, liver, skin and lymph nodes. One easily visual characteristic usually found in children with Tangier disease is the presence of enlarged, yellow-orange tonsils.

Initial research of Tangier disease showed a marked decrease in the HDL concentrations when compared to normal controls. In some cases the reduction was as great as 50% (Schmitz pg.6306). Scientists studied the HDL concentrations and looked for any possible links in its involvement with the disease. They specifically looked at the apo A-I (apolipoprotein) concentrations, which is a major protein component of HDL.

The main hypothesis was that apo A-I was structurally abnormal. Studies proved that this was incorrect because the DNA- derived protein sequence for Tangier apo A-I was identical to the control groups apo A-I sequence (Makrides pg.468). Scientists discovered that the cause of Tangier disease is involved with the intracellular membrane trafficking of the HDL. Normally macrophages inside the cell have receptors that bind the HDL. After the HDL is bound it is transported into the endosomes. The endosome is transported through the cell without any degradation by the lysosome and the HDL is eventually resecreted from the cell. It is during this cycle that there are problems for the Tangier disease people. When the HDL is allowed to bind to the receptor monocyte, the two stick together but they never separate. The HDL is not resecreted outside the cell (Schmitz pg.6308) The data suggest that there is a deficiency in the cellular metabolism of HDL in the Tangier monocytes. The HDL-monocyte unit together also supports the observed condition of high concentrations of excess cholesterol in body tissues.

Currently the treatment for Tangier patients is dependent on the various symptoms, ranging from heart surgery to removal of organs. Gene therapy has been proposed as a possible treatment but is difficult because there isn't anything wrong specifically with the gene involved in the HDL conversion. The problem is in the cellular transportation. Many of the specific processes within the cell are still not known so any extensive treatment is still investigational.

45 posted on 06/11/2005 8:22:22 PM PDT by Pharmboy ("Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God")
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To: Do not dub me shapka broham

You can certainly convert to these groups, but there is a big cost.
There are several types of Amish. The Old Order Amish are the ones you commonly think of: buggies, etc. The Beachy Amish, however, drive cars and are a little more "out there" outside their own community. You'd stand a better chance being accepted into (and being part of) a Beachy church.
There are Mennonites (called Wenger Mennonites) who drive buggies similar to the Amish. There are Mennos on the other end of the spectrum who wear normal modern clothing, women with cut hair. They believe much more in the spirit of Menno Simons and the Anabaptist path than the letter of the law (which in most cases was man-made to begin with). You would have no problem hooking up with a Lancaster Conference Mennonite church. Beware that some are getting rather liberal, accepting homosexuality, but for the most part they are still conservative.


46 posted on 06/11/2005 8:22:33 PM PDT by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: AnAmericanMother

Have not hear those names. This is not an exhaustive list but these are the most common names I have encountered in my 13 years with these people:

Martin, Miller, Byler/Beiler, Fisher, Oberholtzer, Brubaker, Nolt, Zeiset, Ebersol, Yoder, Detwiler, Stolzfus, Fisher, Mast, Bender, Beachy, King, Kauffman, Horning, Wenger, Gingerich, Hostetler, Schmucker, Noecker, Aungst, Zook, Lapp, Zimmerman, Noll, Swartzentruber, Weaver/Weber... there are more but it is getting late....


47 posted on 06/11/2005 8:43:14 PM PDT by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: Conservatrix
And actually, in most of people with defects that I personally know, the relationship between the married couples was not very close (not any cousins that they were aware of). My friends who are the 3rd/4th cousins have 6 healthy children although she did just have a miscarriage. (That can happen to anyone).

I think the problem with the founder effect is that one founder of the original population brings in a recessive gene which in the first generations doesn't show up because all offspring are either normal or carry one copy of the recessive gene. However, as more and more generations build up, more and more of the people in the population carry that recessive gene, and there is a greater chance of two of them marrying and having children. If both carry one copy of the recessive gene, every child born to them has a 25% chance of getting two copies and developing the disease, a 50% chance of getting one copy and being a carrier, and a 25% chance of getting the normal genes.

So at this point the negative recessive genes are spread so far throughout the population that merely marrying more distant relatives isn't going to successfully avoid it.

48 posted on 06/11/2005 9:07:56 PM PDT by ahayes
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To: Conservatrix
I remember seeing one of them-who I presume was a Mennonite-driving a big black Lexus, when I visited Lancaster years ago.

Very odd.

49 posted on 06/11/2005 10:45:02 PM PDT by Do not dub me shapka broham ("What in the world happened to Gerard's tag-line?")
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To: Conservatrix; AnAmericanMother

Just wondering if you can identify a group of Amish or Mennonites based on their dress. Last year I noticed a group taking a tour of the NY State Capitol. The girls wore pastel colored dresses - pink, lavendar, mint green, yellow - with white collars (?) and hats. The group was far too large to have arrived in buggies so I am guessing they came by bus. There has been an influx of Mennonites? (Amish?) to the areas just outside of Albany where farmers are selling off their land. Any thoughts?


50 posted on 06/12/2005 4:00:06 AM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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