ASK DRS. OZ & ROIZEN: Skip hormone for autistic child

King Features SyndicateFebruary 15, 2014 

I heard there’s an oxytocin nasal spray that can help my autistic nephew become more socially at ease. Is that true? And where can I get it?

MARIA F., Harrisburg, Pa.

The nasal spray you are referring to is a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, the bonding hormone.

A recent study did show that children with autism who were given a single dose had changes in their brain activity and behavior. However, researchers didn’t find out if a single dose has lasting effects on social behavior or if more than one dose is safe. A larger study is underway, and it may answer these questions. Until then, no one should be giving kids with autism this hormone. In fact, because every case of autism is highly individual, your nephew should be given medication and therapy only with proper medical supervision or through participation in a clinical trial.

What does improve outcomes is early intervention that tailors support and behavioral therapy to each autistic child’s needs. Autism is a complex neurological disorder and can coexist with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and cause difficulty integrating sight and sound, hyper nerve sensitivity and anxiety. Elements within this array of deficits may present themselves at different levels at different times during a person’s life and can change depending on the environment. That’s why these days we refer to autism as autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.

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