Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

No benefit found from oxytocin treatment for autism

Date:
July 18, 2013
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
The so-called trust hormone, oxytocin, may not improve the symptoms of children with autism, a new study has found. In a randomized controlled clinical trial of 38 boys with autism, half were given a nasal spray of oxytocin on four consecutive days. Compared to a placebo, oxytocin did not significantly improve emotion recognition, social interaction skills, repetitive behaviors, or general behavioral adjustment.

The so-called trust hormone, oxytocin, may not improve the symptoms of children with autism, a large study led by researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has found.

Related Articles


Professor Mark Dadds, of the UNSW School of Psychology, says previous research suggested that oxytocin -- a hormone with powerful effects on brain activity linked to the formation of social bonds -- could have benefits for children with the disorder.

"Many parents of children with autism are already obtaining and using oxytocin nasal spray with their child, and clinical trials of the spray's effects are underway all over the world. Oxytocin has been touted as a possible new treatment, but its effects may be limited," Professor Dadds says.

Autism is a complex condition of unknown cause in which children exhibit reduced interest in other people, impaired social communication skills and repetitive behaviours.

To determine its suitability as a general treatment Professor Dadds' team conducted a randomised controlled clinical trial of 38 boys aged between seven and 16 years of age with autism. Half were given a nasal spray of oxytocin on four consecutive days.

The study has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

"We found that, compared to a placebo, oxytocin did not significantly improve emotion recognition, social interaction skills, repetitive behaviours, or general behavioural adjustment," says Professor Dadds.

"This is in contrast to a handful of previous smaller studies which have shown some positive effects on repetitive behaviours, social memory and emotion processing.

"These studies, however, were limited by having small numbers of participants and/or by looking at the effects of single doses of oxytocin on specific behaviours or cognitive effects while the participants had the oxytocin in their system.

"The results of our much larger study suggest caution should be exercised in recommending nasal oxytocin as a general treatment for young people with autism."

The boys in the new study were assessed twice before treatment, three times during the treatment week, immediately afterwards and three months later, with a parent present. Factors such as eye contact with the parent, responsiveness, warmth, speech, positive body language, repetitive behaviours, and recognition of facial emotions were observed.

Research in people who are healthy shows oxytocin can increase levels of trust and eye-gazing and improve their identification of emotions in others.

One likely possibility is that many children with autism have impaired oxytocin receptor systems that do not respond properly, Professor Dadds says. But there may be a subgroup of children for whom oxytocin could be beneficial, and research is needed to determine who responds to it and how best to deliver it.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "No benefit found from oxytocin treatment for autism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130718101409.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2013, July 18). No benefit found from oxytocin treatment for autism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130718101409.htm
University of New South Wales. "No benefit found from oxytocin treatment for autism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130718101409.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) Ruby Holt spent most of her 100 years on a farm in rural Tennessee, picking cotton and raising four children. She saw the ocean for the first time thanks to her assisted living center and a group that grants wishes to the elderly. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins