Study finds that autistic kids rank low on important social hormones
Social deficits that are common in autistic kids can be treated if the levels of vasopressin are increased.
Vasopressin is a hormone that regulates social behavior in children. These findings have come up in a recent research study. Vasopressin, along with oxytocin, controls social functioning in mammals. Social impairment has been noticed in rodents when a mismatch in any of these two hormones is done.
Let’s read about why autistic kids have been found to be ranking low on vital social hormones.
1 Comprehensive Study
The results of this comprehensive study conducted on autistic kids were published in PLOS ONE and researchers from Stanford University School of Medicines were involved in the same. They tested the results among 159 children; some of these were autistic kids while others had siblings who suffered from autism. The third group of children comprised of young ones with no autistic siblings.
2 Research Tools Used
This was a detailed study to analyze autistic kids and the researchers used standard psychiatric tools. These tools found out the social responsiveness, emotional quotient, and the mind’s ability to comprehend things and facts.
3 Results of the Study
The researchers found that low levels of vasopressin in the blood of autistic children had a relation with lower Theory of Mind Score. In other words, the lower is the vasopressin level, lesser are the chances that such children could comprehend facts with authenticity.
The research team was however in agreement on one fact that the concentration of hormones did not have a relation with the ability of recognition of emotions by these children. However, Karen Parker, a senior author of this study, who is also the Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, came to the conclusion that vasopressin pathway could be an effective therapeutic target.
She found that kids who have lower vasopressin levels in their blood had greater social cognition impairments.
Further shedding light on Theory of Mind, the study hints at the fact that deficits in vasopressin levels create a barrier in communication channels. Such disabilities are typically noticed in children who suffer from autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome and schizophrenia.
4 Conflicting Views and Admiration Too
Andrew White house was of the view that this study was an interesting beginning in areas where such research studies had not been conducted during the past years. Andrew, who is the Head of Autism Research Team at Telethon Kids Institute, pointed out that he was not sure if these particular findings were specific to children who suffered from autism.
He cited the reference of many studies conducted in the past that identified molecules and chemicals in the blood in children who suffered from autism. However, Andrew also drew a line when he pointed that it was unclear as to how much of this was related specifically to autism.
Andrew White house had words of commandment for the authors as they had studied the siblings of autistic children too so as to find out if the lower level of vasopressin was a result of some kind of genetic decision or owing to the fact that these children were raised in a similar kind of atmosphere.
However, the study did observe children who had different levels of vasopressin owing to other kind of difficulties as related to Down syndrome or kids with ADHD.
The capacity of vasopressin to find out social abilities in autism is however still an open question as it was only able to relate to only one of the three social ability measurements as cited above.
5 What another study hints at
A study on similar nature was also done by researchers in Enteric Neuroscience and Autism at University of Melbourne by Elisa Hill. She pointed out that the distinct traits of autism spectrum disorder did make it difficult for patients to comprehend the treatment and they were unsure of the benefits of various therapeutic approaches taken.
She pointed out the fact that these potential therapies were to be useful for different sub-groups of patients. The concentration of blood levels of patients should also be kept in mind as those with lower vasopressin levels were likely to have a lower Theory of Mind score.
Such patients should be treated on priority basis with any of these potential therapies, Elisa Hill hinted.