Bloggers are talking about the autism-vaccine link these days, and some of them have brought up a little investigation done in 2005 by United Press International reporter Dan Olmsted. Olmsted wanted to know whether the Amish, who largely don’t vaccinate their children, suffer autism at the same rates as everybody else.
Olmstead took a trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and embarked on looking for people with autism. If the prevailing theory that autism is genetic was correct, there should have been 1 in 166 people in that population with autism, he figured. (One in 166 was the accepted figure at the time. Now it’s more like 1 in 100.)
He figured there would be about 130 people in the Amish community there with autism, based on 1 in 166. About half of those would have easily identifiable classic autism, he said. So, upwards of 50 with classic autism. And he started asking around to find them.
He found only three.
Coincidentally or not, at least two of the three had been vaccinated. One had been adopted from China and had received all her vaccinations on the same day.
Now, there are other variables too. Amish eat a far-different diet from most Americans. They’re mostly from the same gene pool. And so on. So this isn’t conclusive evidence. What’s needed is a study matching vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals and comparing autism rates. No one with any money is willing to do this, at least so far. Since it would settle the question, I do wonder why not.
And what about the headlines a while back about a polio outbreak in an Amish community? According to the HealthWyze blog, it turns out that was a strain of polio that came from a five-year-old vaccine. It didn’t sicken the children, but was found in their stools only. Odd that this made headlines, isn’t it?
UPI report: http://www.putchildrenfirst.org/media/e.4.pdf
Health Wyze: http://healthwyze.org/index.php/component/content/article/295-the-amish-dont-get-autism-but-they-do-get-bio-terrorism.html