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‘Bonding’ Hormone Might Help Some With Autism


5 Star

‘Bonding’ Hormone Might Help Some With Autism

Our Review Summary

Overall this 633-word story captures the essence of the study and places the test results into a reasonable context.


Why This Matters

This small study supports the hypothesis that oxytocin is involved in the social behaviors associated with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders, and it suggests a potential therapeutic role for oxytocin in people with such disorders.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Although this is a very preliminary study, some mention of costs should have been included, even if simply to note that the cost of potential treatments is unknown at the present time.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The published study itself does not quantify benefits clearly , perhaps understandable given that it is a laboratory study, not a clinical one. But we give the story a satisfactory rating for doing a reasonable job of putting the study results into context. The brevity of the response and the inconsistent findings across individuals were noted appropriately in the story.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


While harms are not quantified in the published study itself, this story does well to emphaszie the importance — and current lack — of safety data for an alluded-to use of oxytocin in children with autism.

We do know a good deal about the toxicity of oxytocin when given to women to induce labor and for a few hours. In addititon to possible severe allergic reactions, water intoxication is an important side effect.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


We give the story kudos for noting several limitations in this research, including the wide variations in individual responses and a lack of evidence that the strategy "would be effective at all" in children or young adults. The author also notes a lack of long-term safety data, and she describes  challenges in translating the delivery method to a real-world application.

We would have liked to have seen a bit more characterization of the preliminary nature of this laboratory study and its very small sample.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story does not resort to disease-mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story cites several independent sources and provides several quotes for balance. The study authors themselves identified no conflicts of interest.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story does discuss the treatment of autism and that no drug therapies are currently available for the social dysfunction observed in people with Asperger syndrome and other forms of autism.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story is clear that the strategy used in this laboratory study is uNPRoven in the real world, particularly in children and young adults. They even note the issues in translating the delivery method to clinical practice.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The article notes that there have been prior studies that also demonstrated an effect of oxytocin in people with autism.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


The story does not appear to rely on a news release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


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