Amy Norton Health Day Reporter
Thursday, October 14, 2021 (HealthDay News)
Researchers said they were disappointed with the findings.
That hope was stimulated by positive findings in several small studies that tested synthetic versions of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a natural hormone in the body that supports binding, whether between mother and child or between romantic partners.
Nevertheless, a new study found that for more than 6 months, children who received oxytocin showed no improvement in social performance over children who received placebo nasal drops.
“The point from this study is that the benefits that parents may see with these nasal sprays are probably unrelated to oxytocin,” said Principal Investigator Dr. Linmary Sikic. .. “It’s probably related to other things happening in the child’s environment.”
Sikich, an associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, said the good news was that safety concerns weren’t revealed during the trial.
“Parents who have used oxytocin don’t have to worry about it doing harm,” she said.
Unfortunately, Sikich said, “There was no evidence that it helped.”
Survey results on October 14th New England Journal of Medicine..
Disabilities are complex and vary widely from person to person. But the general denominator is autism There are more or less difficulties in communication and social interaction.
Behavior therapy begins especially early in life and can help children develop social skills, says Daniel Geschwind, a professor of genetics, neurology, and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Wind said.
“The majority of children respond, but not everyone, and only some people respond dramatically,” he said.
The basic idea behind giving oxytocin is that it may promote a better response to behavioral intervention, according to Geschwind, who wrote the editorial published in the study.
He was not convinced that the trial spelled the end of oxytocin as an option autism.. For one thing, he said, the study did not combine treatment with behavioral therapy.
“Oxytocin has a short half-life in the body,” Geschwind said. “And the effect depends on the situation you are in.”
He likened oxytocin to athletes taking steroids but not taking them without timely behavioral therapy. strength training..
The study involved 290 children and teens. autism, 3 to 17 years old, were randomly assigned to use either oxytocin nasal spray or placebo spray up to twice daily for 6 months.
All study participants were allowed to continue their behavioral or drug therapy prior to the study.
During the study, parents answered standard questionnaires about their child’s behavior, including social interactions. On average, Sikich’s team found that children in both study groups showed improved social performance over time, but there was no difference between the groups.
A previous study pointed to potentially important factors. It is the initial level of oxytocin in the blood of a child. That is, synthetic oxytocin can only be useful when natural levels are low.
However, according to Sikich, her team found no evidence that nasal sprays worked more effectively in study patients with low oxytocin levels. Tactics may also be more effective early in the child’s development. But again, Sikich said the findings were no different for the youngest children in the exam.
But she added that she couldn’t conclude anything about using oxytocin before the age of three.
Geschwind pointed out the complexity of autism, which includes a set of genes associated with the disorder. He said that certain gene mutations are associated with low oxytocin levels.
Geschwind emphasized that a single treatment is not effective for such complex brain disorders. “It’s like expecting everything cancer To respond to the same treatment, “he explained.
However, according to Geschwind, oxytocin in combination with behavioral therapy may help children with autism. He said future trials would like to test the approach in a narrower defined group.
There are no approved oxytocin nasal drops for the treatment of autism. But it does not prevent its use. Some parents may get it online, while others may prescribe it by a doctor, which is obtained through a dispensing pharmacy that offers oxytocin in the form of a nasal spray.
For more information
Source: Linmarie Sikich, MD, Professor of Associate Consulting, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC. Daniel Geschwind, MD, PhD, Professor, Human Genetics, Neurology and Psychiatry, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles. New England Journal of Medicine, October 14, 2021
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