Oxytocin May Help Autism Symptoms

Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” has been thought to encourage bonding between a mother and her baby.  Now, it seems that a study may also show that the hormone, when administered through an inhaler, may alleviate the symptoms of autism in some patients. 

The study involved 13 individuals who had been diagnosed with high functioning autism. Eleven of the participants were men and two were women. The experiment involved how the autism patients focused on other people’s faces. Most people with autism have a hard time looking people in the face while communicating, which leads to their poor social skills and inability to be comfortable during normal social interactions. The results of the experiment showed that after the oxytocin was administered, the participants paid much closer attention to facial expressions in pictures and had a better understanding of social cues in a game situation.

The reason why doctors believed that there was a connection in oxytocin was not only because it connects mothers to their babies, but also because children diagnosed with autism are usually found to have very low oxytocin levels.  If this test proves successful in further trials, they may be able to begin administering oxytocin treatments to people at a much younger age and counteract the onset of impaired social interactions entirely.

With an estimated 1 in 110 children being diagnosed with autism, experiments like this could have a potentially huge impact on our society.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61E4NA20100216

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