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Parkinson's disease-related motor and non-motor symptoms are not more prevalent in the Lancaster Amish

By Michael D.F. Goldenberg, Xuemei Huang, Honglei Chen, Lan Kong, Teodore T. Postolache, John W. Stiller, Katherine A. Ryan, Mary Pavlovich, Toni I. Pollin, Alan R. Shuldiner, Richard B. Mailman, Braxton D Mitchell

Posted 17 Apr 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.13.20064337

Introduction: Previous studies have suggested that the Amish may experience a relatively high prevalence of Parkinson's disease (PD) and/or parkinsonian-motor signs. Methods: We assessed the frequency of PD-related motor and no-motor symptoms in a large sample from the Amish Community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania age [≥]18 y. Results: Of 430 participants [≥] 60 years, five (1.2%) reported a PD diagnosis, a prevalence similar to estimates in the general older adult populations. Of those without a PD diagnosis, 10.5% reported [≥] 1 and 1.2% [≥] 4 motor symptoms for the nine-item PD screening questionnaire. We also used questionnaires to assess non-motor symptoms. Constipation was reported in 0.7%, and daytime sleepiness in 8.1% of the participants. These frequencies are similar to, or lower than, corresponding frequencies reported in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Discussion: These data neither support a markedly higher PD prevalence in the Lancaster Amish, nor do they show that non-motor symptoms occur with prevalence different that the general US population. It is possible that the Lancaster Amish differ from other US Amish populations in genetics or environmental exposures, or that there were methodological differences between this study and prior ones.

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