The new study included 31 children, aged 3 to 8, with autism who received an oxytocin nasal spray twice a day for five weeks.
The researchers report that kids who got the nasal spray showed significant improvements in social, emotional and behavioral problems, compared to kids who did not. The most common side effects were thirst, urination and constipation, the researchers said.
Induced Labor Linked to Raised Risk of Autism, Study Suggests
In the new study, researchers looked at the birth records of more than 625,000 babies born in North Carolina between 1990 and 1998, and compared those with public school records to see who was later diagnosed with autism.
According to the researchers, 1.3 percent of boys and 0.4 percent of girls were diagnosed with autism. Specifically, boys born to moms whose labor was induced or helped along were 35 percent more likely to develop autism, compared with their counterparts. Among girls, only augmented labor was associated with an increased risk for autism. The increased risk of autism held even after researchers controlled for other factors such as the mother's age.
The new study, published online Aug. 12 in JAMA Pediatrics, is the largest to date that looks at autism risk and factors affecting labor and delivery. The findings don't prove that labor induction or augmentation cause autism, they just show an association. Exactly how labor induction could affect autism risk is unknown, but the drug oxytocin may play a role.