Thoughts on autism and pitocin

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jooniper's picture
Joined: 08/27/07
Posts: 780
Thoughts on autism and pitocin

So Pushed brought it up, and I've since been thinking about it and googling it lots- apparently birth experience is being linked more and more to autism. Mostly, the role of oxytocin. Various studies (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091021212247.htm for one- just google "oxytocin and autism") have linked oxytocin to the treatment of autism, and now a few are popping up linking Pitocin-births correlating with autism(http://www.autismtoday.com/articles/ATTN_Researchers.htm- many more if you just google "pitocin autism"). I've even heard that it isn't the pitocin doing it- it's the LACK of natural oxytocin getting to the baby- meaning scheduled c-sections could contribute too, since mom never gets to send the "love hormone" down.
Anyways, I don't know if I buy it completely, but it's an interesting idea, I'd love to see more research done. It makes sense- autism has been hugely on the rise in the last 20 years, as have inductions. Oxytocin plays a part in autism, and it plays a part in labor.
Thoughts?

kvo
kvo's picture
Joined: 12/18/06
Posts: 902

I am skeptical as well. But....any possible link should be thoroughly researched. Just as the possible vaccine link has been researched. I certainly don't think it "causes" autism, because more kids would have it if that were the case, however, when already predisposed to it, I can imagine something like that may intensify where the child ists on the spectrum.

Aspergers is often not noticed until later in childhood b/c it is such a mild form of autism. Perhaps some of these "accelrators" could cause a child who would have presented asbergers symptoms to show mild or moderate autism instead.

I also wonder if the notion of autism being on the rise is just due to it being identified more often. People who may be labeled "aspergers" today, would have been seen as "nerdy, "eccentric," "absent-minded professor" etc in the past. Those who are labeled as moderate or severe autism were all too often lumped into the "mentally retarded" category in the past.

faeriecurls's picture
Joined: 06/04/08
Posts: 790

I work with children on the spectrum and know birth histories for several - and several of the mothers had pitocin or C-sections... correlation isn't causation though. It is an interesting connection that should be researched more.

I think that the fact that spectrum disorders are being identified more definitely accounts for some of the increase, but I have seen a lot of research that suggests that it doesn't account for the huge increase - there is something going on outside of better/earlier identification and changing criteria for classification.

Joined: 03/16/15
Posts: 53852

That is interesting. I could see how it could be a factor. Of course something as complicated as autism is never going to have only one cause, so any possible link should be looked at.

mandi04's picture
Joined: 08/10/03
Posts: 2272

I don't know. Autism is simply being diagnosed more now, not necessarily on the rise. And if you look at the past 10 years inductions and csections have sky rocketed. Add to that that it's pretty rare to go through an induction and impossible to go through a csection without pain medication, you have another factor to think about with that.
And I find my friends/family who are 'best friends' with the epidural/inductions/csections often have pretty different lifestyles as far as what they eat and how they spend their time than I do...and I don't even consider myself all that 'crunchy'. Both of which could quite possibly contribute.

cmljll's picture
Joined: 11/28/06
Posts: 1409

There are SO many factors that correlate with autism that it's hard to prove causation. It's also hard to rule anything out!

What about the rise of pesticides and other chemicals in foods? MSG is linked to all sorts of disorders...

Mom2ThreeKiddos's picture
Joined: 09/15/09
Posts: 1380

This is the first I have heard of this, but it is an interesting idea.

kvo
kvo's picture
Joined: 12/18/06
Posts: 902

There also seems to be a higher incidence of autism in the pacific northwest region of the US (which is where I live). It is also where people tend to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It is such a mystery.

cactuswren's picture
Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 4658

Hm, interesting. I do agree with all the correlation does not equal causation, and Kristen's point about things not necessarily "causing" it but perhaps setting it off or exacerbating it in kids with some kind of proclivity...and the increase in diagnosis factor.

That said, my little (half) brother is, I think, on the spectrum, although very low (confirmed NVLD, with some Asperger like tendencies, though not diagnosed) and he was a 38 week c-section baby. My mom (and his dad) were also 42 when he was born, which I have read is another possible factor. And my little nephew has been tentatively diagnosed as autistic, but it's complicated because of his host of other issues--he was a 26 week c-section (due to extreme preE).

It is interesting, and certainly worth more study.

MrsMangoBabe's picture
Joined: 04/09/07
Posts: 2276

It is a complex issue, but I am inclined to think there is some sort of association. Obviously not all c/s or inductions end up with autism, but it could be something that contributes to it in children who are predisposed. Maybe multiple contributing factors, of which not being borns spontaneously is one, are necessary in order for autism to manifest? We don't know how it works.

The long term effects of birth interventions are not studied, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are a lot of problems that we don't have causes for that are related to birth interventions. It doesn't make sense that chemically messing with a natural process involving barely developed organisms would not have consequences somewhere.

stercry's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 450

"kvo" wrote:

I am skeptical as well. But....any possible link should be thoroughly researched. Just as the possible vaccine link has been researched. I certainly don't think it "causes" autism, because more kids would have it if that were the case, however, when already predisposed to it, I can imagine something like that may intensify where the child ists on the spectrum.

Aspergers is often not noticed until later in childhood b/c it is such a mild form of autism. Perhaps some of these "accelrators" could cause a child who would have presented asbergers symptoms to show mild or moderate autism instead.

I also wonder if the notion of autism being on the rise is just due to it being identified more often. People who may be labeled "aspergers" today, would have been seen as "nerdy, "eccentric," "absent-minded professor" etc in the past. Those who are labeled as moderate or severe autism were all too often lumped into the "mentally retarded" category in the past.

I think this might be more the case. Also in the past the put those people in homes because no one wanted to deal with them, so I think the current generation is seeing more of these children/people because they are no longer hidden away.

kvo
kvo's picture
Joined: 12/18/06
Posts: 902

For those of you who work with or live with children (or adults) on the spectrum, this woman is doing some very innovative research and treatment with various stages of autism. I studied with her at University of Portland during my post-masters specialization program. She is the primary graduate-level instructor for special education at the university and runs a research center here as well. Lots of interesting books, not just on autism, but on education and human communication in general. She also does some really cool work with prisoners.

http://asperger.net/aapc_authors_ellyn_arwood.htm

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

It seems to me that the research just isn't there yet, but if they ever found hard data establishing a verified link that would be fascinating (and tremendously scary given current pit rates)

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

I agree autism is on the rise beyond what can be explained by increased diagnosis and something must be causing it, but in the past 20 years or so, there have been soooo many changes to consider. Increased uses of induction, c/s, u/s, and epidural, but also hormones in food, chemical exposure, the amount of time kids spend in front of the tv... The possibilities are practically endless! Good to see research is exploring it though.

jooniper's picture
Joined: 08/27/07
Posts: 780

"kris_w" wrote:

I agree autism is on the rise beyond what can be explained by increased diagnosis and something must be causing it, but in the past 20 years or so, there have been soooo many changes to consider. Increased uses of induction, c/s, u/s, and epidural, but also hormones in food, chemical exposure, the amount of time kids spend in front of the tv... The possibilities are practically endless! Good to see research is exploring it though.

I agree, just the fact that inductions and autism have both risen over the years isn't a very strong link- MANY things have changed that could contribute to the rise in autism. But the thing about the research that interested me wasn't the correlating rise, it was the link in the chemicals involved (oxytocin/pitocin).

MrsMangoBabe's picture
Joined: 04/09/07
Posts: 2276

"jooniper" wrote:

But the thing about the research that interested me wasn't the correlating rise, it was the link in the chemicals involved (oxytocin/pitocin).

I thought the same thing when I first read about it. Autism is somehow related to oxytocin dysfunction. I think it is totally possible that messing with the balance of oxytocin in the maternal/fetal system during birthing could somehow impair the baby's body's ability to release or interpret oxytocin, which I think could plausibly be a factor in autism. I am interested to see what is discovered about this in the future.