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Oxytocin helps young children with autism

Written by | 29 Oct 2015 | All Medical News

by Bruce Sylvester: Treatment with  oxytocin, a synthetic hormone, significantly improved social, emotional and behavioral parameters among children with autism, researchers reported on Oct. 27, 2015 in Molecular Psychiatry.

“We used some of the most widely used assessments of social responsiveness for children with autism,” said investigator Adam Guastella, associate professor at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia and researcher at its Brain and Mind Centre. “We found that following oxytocin treatment, parents reported their child to be more socially responsive at home, and our own blind independent clinician ratings also supported improved social responsiveness in the therapy rooms of the Brain and Mind Centre,” he added.

The study is the first clinical trial investigating the efficacy, tolerability and safety of intranasal oxytocin in young children with autism.

The researchers treated 31 subjects, ages 3 to 8 years, with twice daily, nasal spray oxytocin.

The treatment was well tolerated.

The authors noted that this is the first time a medical treatment has shown significant benefit for children with autism.

Co-author and co-director of the Brain and Mind Centre, Professor Ian Hickie said that the findings represent a first step in the development of medical treatments for the social deficits seen in children with autism. “The potential to use such simple treatments to enhance the longer-term benefits of other behavioural, educational and technology-based therapies is very exciting,” he said.

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