Reader Question: The Amish and Genetic Diseases

Amish facts/history, Amish view Comments: 19

We had an awesome discussion during our last post regarding the Amish and their general health. If you missed that, you can read it here. Many of you followed up with this question:

Don’t the Amish deal with a higher incidence of genetic diseases? 

That’s a good question, and I’m sure knowledgeable people have written entire books analyzing the topic. I’ll tell you what I know and then refer you to some other sources for additional reading.

First of all, from what I’ve read the genetic issues are not a problem of inter-marriage. In fact, it’s part of a bishop’s job to research a couple’s family tree and make sure that it’s acceptable for them to marry. That said, many of the genetic diseases seen within the Amish population seem to occur from “genetic isolation.” Very few new bloodlines enter the Amish population, so there’s a small gene pool. Erik over at Amish America explains it very well here.

Also, remember the Amish are not going to participate in genetic testing. So if a family has a child with muscular dystrophy (which does occur at a higher rate in Amish communities than in Englisch), they are not going to test the next unborn child to see if it too has the disease. They consider all children a gift from God and consider handicapped children to be a special blessing.

Some medical facilities have popped up to specifically help Amish and Mennonite families with genetic disorders. I would love to write a book centered around the Center for Special Children, but so far I haven’t had a publisher interested in that idea.

One solution that Erik talks about is encouraging marriage between different communities. In other words, if the Indiana Amish would intermarry more with the Pennsylvania Amish then it would offer a partial solution, but of course since Amish don’t usually travel far that doesn’t happen as often as you might think.

On a different topic, how is everyone handling the pandemic? In Texas, we’re attempting to find  a new normal. Schools have re-opened in our area, and about 60% of the families have chosen to send their students to school. The other 40% will do at-home learning.

Leave me a comment below about how your area is adapting, and you’ll be entered to win a box of books. They’ll be “back copies” which means books that have been previously released (earlier in the year or even in previous years). I’ll sign them generically, and if it’s something you already have you can gift it to a friend or library. Our winners from the last blog were Debbie Earls, Deanne Patterson, and Barbara Dierksheide.  Ladies, you should have received an email from me–so check your email! If it’s not there, send me an email through the Contact button at the top of this page. And if anyone else has a Reader Question, send it to me via the Contact button, and I’d be happy to try and answer it.



Announcements for this week

  • Dead Broke is now up for pre-order. I wish I could show you the cover, but my webpage has gone wonky and won’t let me add pictures to a post. I’ll work on getting that fixed, in the mean time you can place your pre-order at Amazon or Other Vendors. Release date is 11-17-20.
  • Coyote’s Revenge and Roswell’s Secret are available for a limited time through KindleUnlimited, or you may purchase them from Amazon. On October 17th, I’ll pull them out and put another series there. If you’re a subscriber of KU, please check these out!
  • I’m participating in several cross promotions this month. There’s a fun Mystery and Thriller collection, which includes my book Coyote’s Revenge. 99c or Free Christian Suspense includes my book Hidden. Finally Female Sleuths/Cozy Mysteries can be found here, and includes my book Dead Wrong.
  • My entire Bishop series are on sale in ebook format (all vendors),now through the end of the month. Each book will be priced $1.99, so check that out!

Leave a Reply

19 thoughts on “Reader Question: The Amish and Genetic Diseases

  1. Liz Whelan

    Hi Vannetta. Thank Goodness our area of Staten Island, NY is doing so much better. Still some people in the hospitals, but no more deaths from the Pandemic. It’s been a rough ride all over New York, but we’re Strong people & try to do what’s right. As long as people follow the information about wearing masks to protect themselves & others around them, we’ll be fine. Places opening up slowly. I’m not to sure about Schools opening up yet. I’ve heard reports that Children are getting sick from a form of this Virus. So scary. Well stay safe & be well. A Fan, Liz Whelan

  2. Lisa Sapp

    Hello everyone,
    We are in South Georgia. Our town is getting back to normal. I am blessed to live in a very giving community. There are so many different people who spearheaded ways to help each other. Food drives, food banks, delivery to elderly and sick, kids lunches, even folks helping neighbors with Bill’s. It was amazing to see the love pouring out. Slowly our businesses are getting more stable. Schools are open and we have virtual at home options too.

    Hope everyone is well where you are. Blessings to all

  3. beth a scott

    Blessings Vannetta! My town is the same as yours. I hear the kids are doing great.
    I’m going to add the Bishop series to my Kindle library. It’s already on my bookshelf. I’d love me to see him again!
    I also loved your dystopian series and would like to see an update on how they are.
    I love your writing

  4. Betty Tyler

    Here in Nashville things are at 20% of what they are supposed to be. Masks are mandatory and most schools are offering home schooling. We have very high numbers so my family and I are staying home as much as we can. Stay safe and healthy!!

  5. Linda McFarland

    It is definitely a new normal in PA. It’s confusing at times as masks are mandatory and you’re not sure if it’s safe to eat out or just stay home. Mainly just use common sense. Don’t like how it’s become a political issue.

  6. Debbie Rhoades

    I’m up in the OKC metro area, about 15 minutes West in Yukon. The schools have done different things around the metro; some of them are doing virtual learning the first semester, and some are doing in person schooling 2 days a week, then virtual learning 3 days a week. It is very confusing from school district to school district.

  7. Brenda Murphree

    I live in MS and we are not doing just real good. Governor says our hospitals are getting full with Covid patients. Mask are mandatory. As far as my family we are doing great so far.

  8. Pat Rzonca

    Glad to hear you are doing well. Ohio is about the same as Texas. Some school districts are opening. Some have pushed it out 9 weeks. Restaurants are struggling to stay in business. My husband has moderate COPD. So we are not able to do a lot. Grateful that our summer has been so nice. I have spent a lot of time outside.

  9. Kay

    We are doing well in Arkansas. I teach at a home school co-op and we are starting school. We only go one day a week and the parents teach at home the rest of the week. I, too am frustrated with the political way all this has been handled and sad for all who have really been adversely affected by all this. The public schools will open on alternate days for “a” students and “b” students and virtual available also.
    Thanks for the info on genetics among th Amish, very interesting

  10. Roberta Jeffers

    We live in Jamestown, NC. And our little town is doing okay business has picked back up especially the restaurants. People seem to be taking it one day at a time .

  11. Patricia Shrader

    As in most places, some of our students are back to school face-to-face, and some are doing virtual school. I don’t know the percentages. My granddaughter started college today, face-to-face. (Florida)

  12. Debbie Earls

    We are doing well in Hamilton, Ohio. We haven’t had too many cases. We are wearing masks, etc. It has definitely been a crazy year. I am taking things one day at a time and trusting God for the outcome. Continuing to pray for our country. Thank you.

  13. Gloria A

    Here in Northwest Florida, we are back in school. We have one grandson who just started Kindergarten and is so excited. We have another grandson who starts Kindergarten next week and can’t wait. I don’t know the percentage of how many are in attendance versus virtual.

  14. Kelly

    I would be very interested in a book about the special needs children of the Amish. I have two Special needs grandchildren
    Our schools locally are doing distance learning via computers.
    It is hard on the children and parents. But they other ,,,,
    Will the Dead Wrong be a series?
    I love the protagonist and her neighbor!

  15. Marilyn Ridgway

    Great article, Vannetta.

    Eastern Illinois University offered private dorm rooms and classes are in person spread out into areas never used as classrooms before and on-line. The public schools are remote learning only as we’ve experienced an increase of Covid cases.

    Talking to my Amish friends last week they are back in session and going the full day. Arthur’s public school are dismissing early with some parents choosing to do remote learning only.

    Since no volunteers are allowed to see Hospice patients currently, I’ve been volunteering at our local food pantry. I stay busy with early morning walks, devotions, yard work, assisting family members and attending church now that we are back collectively.

    Blessings. Stay healthy. Love all your books!

  16. Cecilia Young

    i enjoyed reading about this. I don’t know very much about the Amish. In my community we are doing well. We have been sharing puzzles by leaving them at our mailbox center. We don’t have very many children who live here, we are mostly older couples, but we check in with our older neighbors and make sure they are doing well.

  17. Barbara Wenner

    Hi Vannetta! I enjoyed reading about the Amish School.Are they going to open the School since we got this Pandemic? We have got our Schools open here there been cleaning a lot so the kids don’t get sick, we’re still wearing masks.and some of our stores are opening back up and we got some that is closing. Stay safe and have a bless day.