Autism: Oxytocin for better social bonding

Also known as the cuddle hormone known as Oxytocin promotes social bonds. Researchers at the University of Leuven have it administered to adult men with autism as a nasal spray and found that they were more open to emotional attachments with others. The hormone had even months after the end of treatment a positive effect.

In the pilot study, 40 adult men with autism spectrum disorder participated. Preliminary investigations revealed that the amount of Oxytocin in the saliva of the men stand in relationship to their attachment problems. The participants were divided into two groups, one of which for four weeks a daily Placebo and the other Oxytocin as a nasal spray received. In the case of those who had received Oxytocin showed up to a year later, the positive effects: your behaviour was less monotonous, they needed less routines. Also the binding behaviour improved significantly.

Positive effect hält up to a year

This study shows for the first Time, as repeated administration of Oxytocin in people with autism, the impact in the long term. For remarkably, the researchers hold that the effect lasted for up to one year.

Oxytocin is already used as a drug, to allow contractions or breast-feeding should be initiated. So one could think that soon the preparations could be for people with autism available. Study leader Prof. Kaat Alaerts dampens these expectations, however: "The results we present are the result of a first pilot study. Before Oxytocin can be used for the treatment of people with autism, must be lot of further research work is being carried out."