News ID: 196676
Published: 0505 GMT July 15, 2017

Oxytocin helps social behavior of autistic kids

Oxytocin helps social behavior of autistic kids

Research from Stanford University School of Medicine found autistic children treated with oxytocin showed improved social behavior.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found children with autism spectrum disorder with low oxytocin levels benefit from treatment with oxytocin, UPI reported.

Karen Parker, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, said, "Our results suggest that some children with autism will benefit from oxytocin treatment more than others and that blood oxytocin levels might be a biological sign that will allow us to predict if a child will respond maximally or not.”

The study consisted of 32 children with autism randomly assigned to receive an intranasal spray of oxytocin or a placebo spray, twice a day for four weeks.

Results showed children who received the oxytocin who had the lowest levels of the brain hormone at the beginning of the trial had the greatest improvements in social behavior.

A larger trial of the effects of oxytocin is currently underway at several sites throughout the US.

Dr. Antonio Hardan, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, said, "If our findings are replicated in the large NIH-funded trial, then I might consider doing baseline oxytocin measurements as part of my clinical practice to try to determine if specific patients will respond.

"Hopefully, this is a first step to identifying the characteristics of people with autism who respond to specific treatments.

"Because of the heterogeneity of the disorder, we need to start doing clinical trials not to see if there will be a response, but more to see who will respond to possible treatments."

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