Parkinson's Disease-Related Motor and Nonmotor Symptoms in the Lancaster Amish

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has suggested that the Amish may experience a relatively high prevalence of Parkinson's disease (PD) and/or parkinsonian motor signs. Methods: In a large sample from the Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, age =18 years, we assessed the prevalence of self-reported PD diagnosis. For those without self-reported PD diagnosis, we assessed the frequency of PDrelated motor symptoms using a 9-item questionnaire that was designed by the PD Epidemiology Research Group. Lastly, we queried study participants for the presence of 2 nonmotor symptoms that have been commonly linked to PD: bowel movement frequency and daytime sleepiness. Results: Among 2,025 subjects who answered the PD questionnaire, 430 were older than 60 years. Of 430 participants =60 years, 5 (1.2%) reported a PD diagnosis. Of those without a PD diagnosis, 10.5% reported =1 and 1.2% = 4 motor symptoms for the 9-item PD screening questionnaire. Of the 3,789 subjects who answered the question about bowel movement frequency, 0.7% reported =3 bowel movements per week. Among 1,710 subjects who answered the question about daytime sleepiness, 8.1% of the participants reported always sleepy during the day. Discussion: These data neither support a markedly higher PD prevalence in the older Lancaster Amish nor do they show dramatically higher motor and/or selected nonmotor symptoms than the general population. Future studies that employ more rigorous procedures for case identification and PD-specific preclinical symptoms/tests are needed to determine the potential differences and similarities among different Amish populations and between Amish and non-Amish populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-397
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Clinical Neurology


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