OMS

AUTISMO SEGUN OMS

Datos y cifras

  • El autismo –denominado también trastorno del espectro autista– constituye un grupo de afecciones diversas relacionadas con el desarrollo del cerebro.
  • Las características pueden detectarse en la primera infancia, pero, a menudo, el autismo no se diagnostica hasta mucho más tarde.
  • Aproximadamente uno de cada 100 niños tiene autismo.
  • Las capacidades y las necesidades de las personas con autismo varían y pueden evolucionar con el tiempo. Aunque algunas personas con autismo pueden vivir de manera independiente, hay otras con discapacidades graves que necesitan constante atención y apoyo durante toda su vida.
  • Las intervenciones psicosociales basadas en evidencias pueden mejorar las aptitudes sociales y para la comunicación, y tener un impacto positivo en el bienestar y la calidad de vida de las personas con autismo y de sus cuidadores.
  • La atención a las personas con autismo debe ir acompañada de medidas en el ámbito comunitario y social para lograr mayor accesibilidad, inclusividad y apoyo.

Introducción

Los trastornos del espectro autista (TEA) son un grupo de afecciones diversas. Se caracterizan por algún grado de dificultad en la interacción social y la comunicación. Otras características que presentan son patrones atípicos de actividad y comportamiento; por ejemplo, dificultad para pasar de una actividad a otra, gran atención a los detalles y reacciones poco habituales a las sensaciones.

Las capacidades y las necesidades de las personas con autismo varían y pueden evolucionar con el tiempo. Aunque algunas personas con autismo pueden vivir de manera independiente, hay otras con discapacidades graves que necesitan constante atención y apoyo durante toda su vida. El autismo suele influir en la educación y las oportunidades de empleo. Además, impone exigencias considerables a las familias que prestan atención y apoyo. Las actitudes sociales y el nivel de apoyo prestado por las autoridades locales y nacionales son factores importantes que determinan la calidad de vida de las personas con autismo.

Las características del autismo pueden detectarse en la primera infancia, pero, a menudo, el autismo no se diagnostica hasta mucho más tarde.

Las personas con autismo presentan a menudo afecciones comórbidas, como epilepsia, depresión, ansiedad y trastorno de déficit de atención e hiperactividad, y comportamientos problemáticos, como dificultad para dormir y autolesiones. El nivel intelectual varía mucho de un caso a otro, y va desde un deterioro profundo hasta casos con aptitudes cognitivas altas.

Epidemiología

Se calcula que, en todo el mundo, uno de cada 100 niños tiene autismo(1). Esta estimación representa una cifra media, pues la prevalencia observada varía considerablemente entre los distintos estudios. No obstante, en algunos estudios bien controlados se han registrado cifras notablemente mayores. La prevalencia del autismo en muchos países de ingresos bajos y medianos es hasta ahora desconocida.

Causas

La evidencia científica disponible indica la existencia de múltiples factores, entre ellos los genéticos y ambientales, que hacen más probable que un niño pueda tener autismo.

Los datos epidemiológicos disponibles demuestran de forma concluyente que no hay pruebas de una relación causal entre el autismo y la vacuna contra el sarampión, la parotiditis y la rubéola. Los estudios anteriores que señalaban una relación causal estaban plagados de errores metodológicos (2)(3).

Tampoco hay prueba alguna de que otras vacunas infantiles puedan aumentar el riesgo de autismo. Los exámenes de los datos sobre una posible asociación entre el riesgo de autismo y la presencia en las vacunas inactivadas del conservante tiomersal o de adyuvantes con aluminio han concluido firmemente que las vacunas no incrementan dicho riesgo.

Evaluación y atención

Desde la primera infancia y durante toda la vida, una amplia gama de intervenciones pueden optimizar el desarrollo, la salud, el bienestar y la calidad de vida de las personas con autismo. El acceso oportuno a intervenciones psicosociales tempranas basadas en las evidencias puede mejorar la capacidad de los niños con autismo para comunicarse eficazmente e interactuar socialmente. Se recomienda incluir el seguimiento del desarrollo infantil en la atención sistemática a la salud de la madre y el niño.

Una vez diagnosticado el autismo, es importante que se les ofrezca al niño o adolescente con autismo y a su familia información y servicios pertinentes, derivación a especialistas y ayudas prácticas de acuerdo con sus necesidades y preferencias y con la evolución de estas.

Las necesidades de atención de salud de las personas con autismo son complejas y requieren una serie de servicios integrados, que abarcan la promoción de la salud, la atención y la rehabilitación. Es importante la colaboración entre el sector de la salud y otros sectores, en particular los relacionados con la educación, el empleo y la asistencia social.

Las intervenciones dirigidas a las personas con autismo y otras discapacidades del desarrollo deben diseñarse y realizarse con la participación de personas que presenten esos trastornos. La atención debe ir acompañada de medidas en el ámbito comunitario y social para lograr mayor accesibilidad, inclusividad y apoyo.

Derechos humanos

Todas las personas, incluidas las que padecen autismo, tienen derecho al disfrute del más alto nivel posible de salud física y mental.

Sin embargo, las personas con autismo a menudo son objeto de estigmatización y discriminación, que incluye la privación injusta de atención de salud, educación y oportunidades para participar en sus comunidades.

Las personas con autismo tienen los mismos problemas de salud que el resto de la población, pero pueden tener además otras necesidades asistenciales especiales relacionadas con el autismo u otras afecciones comórbidas. Pueden ser más vulnerables a padecer enfermedades no trasmisibles crónicas debido a factores de riesgo como inactividad física o malas preferencias dietéticas, y corren mayor riesgo de sufrir violencia, lesiones y abusos.

Al igual que el resto de los individuos, las personas con autismo necesitan servicios de salud accesibles para sus necesidades de atención de salud generales, en particular servicios de promoción, prevención y tratamiento de enfermedades agudas y crónicas. Sin embargo, en comparación con el resto de la población, las personas con autismo tienen más necesidades de atención de salud desatendidas y son también más vulnerables en caso de emergencia humanitaria. Un obstáculo frecuente radica en los conocimientos insuficientes y las ideas equivocadas que tienen los proveedores de atención de salud sobre el autismo.

Resolución de la OMS sobre los trastornos del espectro autista

En mayo de 2014, la 67.ª Asamblea Mundial de la Salud adoptó la resolución titulada Medidas integrales y coordinadas para gestionar los trastornos del espectro autista, que contó con el apoyo de más de 60 países.

En la resolución se insta a la OMS a colaborar con los Estados Miembros y organismos asociados en el fortalecimiento de las capacidades nacionales para abordar los TEA y otros problemas del desarrollo.

Respuesta de la OMS

La OMS y sus asociados reconocen la necesidad de fortalecer la capacidad de los países para promover una salud y un bienestar óptimos para todas las personas con autismo.

Los esfuerzos de la OMS se centran en:

  • aumentar el compromiso de los gobiernos con la adopción de medidas que mejoren la calidad de vida de las personas con autismo;
  • proporcionar orientación sobre políticas y planes de acción que aborden el autismo en el marco más general de la salud, la salud mental y cerebral y las discapacidades;
  • contribuir a fortalecer la capacidad del personal de salud para proporcionar una atención adecuada y eficaz a las personas con autismo y promover normas óptimas para su salud y bienestar; y
  • fomentar los entornos inclusivos y favorables para las personas con autismo y otras discapacidades del desarrollo y prestar apoyo a sus cuidadores.

En el Plan de Acción Integral de la OMS sobre Salud Mental 2013–2030 y la resolución WHA73.10 de la Asamblea Mundial de la Salud sobre «Medidas mundiales contra la epilepsia y otros trastornos neurológicos» se hace un llamamiento a los países para que aborden las considerables deficiencias actuales en la detección temprana, atención, tratamiento y rehabilitación para los trastornos mentales y las alteraciones del desarrollo neurológico, entre los que se incluye el autismo. En la resolución se insta asimismo a los países a que aborden las necesidades sociales, económicas, educativas y en materia de inclusión, de las personas con trastornos mentales y otros trastornos neurológicos, así como de sus familias, y a que mejoren la vigilancia y la investigación pertinentes. 

Esta entrada fue publicada en autismo. Guarda el enlace permanente.

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