Weird Medicine

Amish Medical Mystery Finally Solved By New Research

A family in a remote community in the eastern U.S. thought that they had been cursed after a series of sudden deaths of their children. But researchers recently found what surprisingly killed the kids. 

The Amish family first saw a daughter died in 2004. She was 12 and healthy when she collapsed due to heart failure while playing with other kids. 

However, doctors did not find any structural abnormalities in her heart. A few months later, her younger sister died in the same way while playing outside.

The deaths continued in the family when two other daughters passed away a few years later after the first one, Duluth News Tribune reported. The same cases were reported in other Amish families in different parts of the U.S. 

The sudden deaths of young people remained a mystery to the communities for nearly two decades, making them believe that it was a curse. Now, researchers from the Mayo Clinic reported that they already found what has been causing sudden unexplained cardiac deaths among Amish children and teens. 

They looked into data from Amish communities in Delaware, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Iowa. The researchers found a majority of the kids who died from cardiac arrest had a genetic defect, Star Tribune reported.

DNA samples from the four Amish siblings appeared with a duplication of specific genetic material, which contributed to their heart problems. Mayo researchers said other Amish families have the same genetic defect. 

The study, published in the journal JAMA Cardiology, suggests the defect in children came from their parents. That is because of the practice in some Amish communities of close relatives marrying and having children together.

Michael Ackerman, of Mayo’s Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory, said the findings may help determine the generations of children that may be at risk of heart problems. He added it should also promote screening and genetic counseling to encourage adults who have the defect to avoid having children together. 

“It’s closure,” Ackerman said. “We can tell them the root cause … why their children died tragically and suddenly while playing. That is powerful medicine itself.”

Researchers also hope their study will guide future efforts to find medications or treatments that can protect at-risk kids. The Amish families expressed interest in medical testing to prevent the risks of cardiac deaths in their future children. 

amish Researchers from the Mayo Clinic reported that they already found what has been causing sudden unexplained cardiac deaths among Amish children and teens. Pixabay

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