A broad body of research points to a central role for the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This includes evidence that depletion of central OT results in deficits in social affiliative behaviors in animals, that administration of OT reduces repetitive behaviors and improves social cognition in individuals with ASD, and increases trust and the stress-protective effect of social contact in controls, that plasma OT is decreased in individuals with ASD, and that there is an association between ASD and the gene for the OT receptor (Otr). In addition, early exogenous exposure to OT has been shown to effect both brain OT and social behavior later in life. The use of Pitocin, a synthetic form of OT, for the induction and augmentation of labor has increased in parallel with the dramatic increase in ASD in recent decades. Several authors have suggested a link, but a small number of studies of individuals with autism have yielded inconsistent results.
Objectives: Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000201 EndHTML:0000002710 StartFragment:0000002440 EndFragment:0000002674 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/marian/Desktop/Research/Pitocin%20Study/Imfar2010Abstract.doc To examine the relationship between the use of Pitocin during labor and the risk for the development of ASD in the child.
Methods: Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000201 EndHTML:0000003392 StartFragment:0000002440 EndFragment:0000003356 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/marian/Desktop/Research/Pitocin%20Study/Imfar2010Abstract.doc
: Subjects were children aged 6 to 16, seen in a private practice setting between 2000 and 2008, who were referred for neuropsychological evaluation of academic, behavioral or social emotional difficulties. Birth histories were obtained by parent interview. Diagnosis was based on DSM-IV criteria. Of 93 children, 15 were diagnosed with ASD (autism, Asperger’s syndrome or PDD NOS), 42 were diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), 21 were diagnosed with anxiety or depression (PSY) and 15 had no psychiatric diagnosis but some cognitive-based learning issues (COG).
Results: Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000201 EndHTML:0000003155 StartFragment:0000002440 EndFragment:0000003119 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/marian/Desktop/Research/Pitocin%20Study/Imfar2010Abstract.doc
The percentage of children whose mothers were administered Pitocin during labor was significantly greater in the ASD group (67%) than in the three other groups (ADHD 31%, PSY 19%, COG 27%), and the rate for the general population (about 26%). Analysis using Pearson Chi-Square demonstrated a significant relationship between diagnosis and OT exposure.
Conclusions: Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000201 EndHTML:0000002688 StartFragment:0000002439 EndFragment:0000002652 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/marian/Desktop/Research/Pitocin%20Study/Imfar2010Abstract.doc The results suggest that administration of Pitocin during labor increases the risk for autism spectrum disorder.