Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Br J Psychiatry. 2014 Aug;205(2):107-12. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.113.137513. Epub 2014 May 22.

Parent-child interaction and oxytocin production in pre-schoolers with autism spectrum disorder.

Author information

1
Ruth Feldman, PhD, Ofer Golan, PhD, Yael Hirschler-Guttenberg, MA, Sharon Ostfeld-Etzion, MA, Orna Zagoory-Sharon, PhD, Department of Psychology and the Gonda Brain Sciences Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with genetic risk on the oxytocin system, suggesting oxytocin involvement in ASD; yet oxytocin functioning in young children with ASD is unknown.

AIMS:

To assess baseline oxytocin in pre-schoolers with ASD and test whether oxytocin production may be enhanced by parent-child contact.

METHOD:

Forty pre-schoolers with high-functioning ASD were matched with 40 typically developing controls. Two home visits included an identical 45-minute social battery once with the mother and once with the father. Four saliva oxytocin samples were collected from each parent and the child during each visit.

RESULTS:

Children with ASD had lower baseline oxytocin. Following 20 min of parent-child interactions, oxytocin normalised and remained high during social contact. Fifteen minutes after contact, oxytocin fell to baseline. Oxytocin correlated with parent-child social synchrony in both groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Oxytocin dysfunction in ASD is observed in early childhood. The quick improvement in oxytocin production following parent-child contact underscores the malleability of the system and charts future directions for attachment-based behavioural and pharmacological interventions.

PMID:
24855128
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.bp.113.137513
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Cambridge University Press
Loading ...
Support Center