Sumary of Study: ‘Sociability’ hormone didn’t help kids with autism:
- “This is really a major setback,” said Dr. Linmarie Sikich, a Duke University researcher who led the multi-site U.S. study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Experiments in mice have suggested the hormone may promote sociability, and small studies have hinted that it might have similar effects in children with autism, who often struggle with social interaction.
- The kids, ages 3 to 17, received daily squirts of nasal spray containing oxytocin or an inactive ingredient for seven weeks, with gradual dose increases after that.
- Small behavior improvements occurred in both groups, but they had no meaningful impact, Vikich said.
- Larry Young, an Emory University scientist who does animal research with oxytocin, said it’s too soon to give up on it for treating autism.
- Without accompanying behavior therapy or guidance, however, that effect could be negative, he said.
- “This is a very important study because it does say that just willy-nilly giving daily administrations of oxytocin is not going to lead to improvement,” Young said.
- Joyce Galaverna’s son was 13 when he enrolled in the study in 2015. He tolerated the treatments but his behavior showed no improvement.