Reader Question: The Amish and Genetic Diseases


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 preorder. 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 meantime 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 Revenge99c 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 e-book format (all vendors), now through the end of the month. Each book will be priced $1.99, so check that out!

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