A five week treatment with the synthetic hormone oxytocin significantly improved social, emotional and behavioral issues among young children with autism, according to University of Sydney research published today in Molecular Psychiatry.

The study, led by researchers at the University’s Brain and Mind Centre, is thought to be the first evidence of a medical treatment for social impairments in children with autism. It is also the first clinical trial investigating the efficacy, tolerability and safety of intranasal-administered oxytocin in young children with autism.

Behavioral therapies can improve social, emotional and behavioral impairments but these are typically time consuming (40 hours per week), remain costly and show mixed outcomes. There is currently no medical treatment for these problems.

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