Generación autista

SAN DIEGO - Hasta no hace mucho tiempo, el autismo era uno de los trastornos más raros, afectando a sólo uno de cada 2.000-5.000 niños. Esto cambió radicalmente con la publicación en 1994 del DSM IV (manual de diagnóstico psiquiátrico ampliamente utilizado en todo el mundo). Pronto, los índices llegaron a alrededor de 1 por cada 100. Y un estudio a gran escala en Corea del Sur informó recientemente de un salto a más de 1 por cada 38... un increíble 3% de la población general fue etiquetado como autista. ¿Qué está causando esta epidemia y hacia dónde vamos?

La reacción natural ante cualquier plaga es el pánico. Ahora los padres sienten temor de que cualquier retraso en el habla o la socialización sea presagio de autismo. Parejas sin hijos deciden no tener hijos. Los padres con niños autistas están desolados y desesperados por determinar su causa.

La teoría de la vacuna del físico británico Andrew Wakefield se volvió muy popular entre los padres, muchos de los cuales comenzaron negarse a vacunar a sus hijos (sometiéndolos así, y a otros niños, al riesgo de contraer enfermedades totalmente prevenibles y a veces graves). La vacunación parecía una causa plausible debido a la correlación fortuita entre las inyecciones y la aparición de los síntomas. El trabajo de Wakefield ha sido desacreditado como ciencia incorrecta y deshonesta. Pero el miedo al autismo es tan grande, y las reacciones tan irracionales, que en algunos círculos sigue siendo venerado como un falso profeta.

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