The 1988 movie “Rain Man” was the first to address the topic of autism in a ‘popular’ context. That it had two such stars as its front men did more than most scientific papers to bring a perception of the disorder into the public forum.
But how prevalent is autism? Is it the same for both sexes? Is it really treatable?
The statistics are daunting with estimates of between one in 100 and one in 150 people being affected. A 2006 study by the ‘Centre for Disease Control and Prevention,’ (CDC) taken across 11 states and focusing on children up to 8 years of age, drew the conclusion that an average of 0.9% of the focus group showed evidence of an ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’ (ASD). Further, they suggested a number of findings:
• That the disorder is more likely to be prevalent in male children than female by a factor of four to five times
• That similar studies in Europe, North America and across Asia demonstrated occurrences ranging between 0.6% and greater than 1% with a significantly higher number being reported from South Korea
So, we are left with a question as to whether the numbers are increasing and can anything be done to inhibit any such increase.
Research has been carried out related to the impact that the naturally-occurring hormone known as oxytocin may have a role in being able to improve the social impairment that is evident with patients who have an ASD. Many studies are being carried out as to whether the treatment is a real or imagined option insofar as inhibiting ASD behaviours. Whereas the CDC study focussed on children, others have attempted to look at the disorder across the age and sex range.
One study, from 2007, conducted at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and published by Hollander used a mix of real and placebo tests on 15 adults and concluded that there was a direct link between oxytocin and the facilitation of improved ‘social information processing’ among those diagnosed as being autistic and suggested that the study offered a degree of supporting evidence that oxytocin was suitable as a treatment for the disorder.
Indeed, a recent study (2011) carried out by Angela Sirigu and her colleagues at CNRS Laboratories in Bron, France  suggested a connection between improvements and the use of oxytocin when inhaled in the form of Oxytocin Factor nasal spray. The study was undertaken with a group of patients of average age 26, but ranging from 17 through 39. All those studied had been diagnosed with either Asperger’s or seen to have high levels of autism.
Sublingual drops are an oral form capable of being absorbed via mucus membranes quickly and can have an effect within as little as 10 or 15 minutes. Nasal sprays can sometimes be found to be problematic for some patients but are an effective methodology and can also have an impact. Both treatments have been reported to last for several hours.
Whether the CNRS study is a conclusive result remains to be seen, but there are many indications of its efficacy in reducing the incidence. Their study looked at the ‘before and after’ treatment results and using the nasal spray technique certainly appeared to have positive results, with the patients studied demonstrating significant changes in attitude to undertaking some tasks. Their work was published in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ under the heading “Promoting social behavior with oxytocin in high-functioning autism spectrum disorders” .
What is undeniable is that, even at 1% of the population, this disorder requires a serious review of the medications and treatments available for ‘common’ use. That oxytocin has been found to be effective is a start point – companies such as Oxytocin Factorare very focused on delivering treatments in formats that are easy to use as well as being efficacious.
Autism or ASD is a disorder that requires a degree of vigilance in dealing with the side effects and the impact on the individual and the family and colleagues who surround them. Having readily-available treatments, which have been proven to work and are easy and quick to administer, can be an aid to reducing issues in social environments.
Dr. Luis Martinez is offering a Free Report on autism and oxytocin. http://bit.ly/sSy2q3
For more information contact Bryan Post, Managing Editor of Oxytocin Central firstname.lastname@example.org or call (405) 476-1983
 Study published in The’ National Center for Biotechnology Information; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16904652