Science & Technology

Hormones that are widely used to treat autism are ineffective. – Science Inquirer

Durham, NC – Oxytocin, a natural hormone that acts as a chemical messenger in the brain, showed no evidence to help children with autism develop social skills. New England Journal of Medicine.

Although disappointing to those who hope that oxytocin may benefit children with autism, the long-awaited discovery is a drug that has shown different results in small, less robust studies. Provides clarity.

“There was great hope that this drug would be effective,” said the principal investigator and lead author of the study. Linmary Sikitch, MD, Associate Consulting Professor Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science At Duke University School of Medicine. “All of us on the research team were very disappointed, but oxytocin does not appear to change the social functioning of people with autism.”



Oxytocin is commonly used to induce labor, but because of its activity in the brain, it has been studied as a treatment for autism. Evidence is inconsistent, with some small studies suggesting improved social and cognitive function in children with autism, while others have shown no benefit. Hmm.

Sikich et al. Include senior authors Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, MD New York State Institute of Psychiatry Columbia University has designed a multi-site trial to provide the best evidence ever on whether oxytocin is a safe and effective treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders.

The research team enrolled 290 children aged 3 to 17 years, stratified by age and severity of autistic symptoms. Children were randomized into similar groups of the same size to receive oxytocin or placebo via daily nasal spray for 24 weeks.

This study aims to determine whether the oxytocin regimen has a measurable effect on a child’s social performance based on screening and evaluation at the beginning, middle, and end of the study. .. Both the researcher and the parents of the child provided an assessment using standard analytical tools for autism.

Oxytocin was well tolerated and had few side effects, but showed no significant benefit among the group of children who received oxytocin compared to the children who received placebo.

“Thousands of children with autism spectrum disorders were prescribed intranasal oxytocin before being properly tested,” said Veenstra-Vander Weele. “Thankfully, our data show that it’s safe. Unfortunately, when used daily for months, it’s not better than a placebo. These results are with clinicians. It shows that families need to claim strong evidence of the safety and benefits of new treatments before they are offered to patients in the clinic. “

Given the negative results, Sikich said no further research on oxytocin is likely.


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Hormones that are widely used to treat autism are ineffective. – Science Inquirer

https://scientificinquirer.com/2021/10/17/hormone-widely-used-as-an-autism-treatment-shows-no-benefit/ Hormones that are widely used to treat autism are ineffective. – Science Inquirer

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