Thursday, February 25, 2010

Do hospitals cause autism?

A few days ago I posted about ameliorating symptoms of Asperger's by inhaling oxytocin. My partner was talking with a colleague about this yesterday. The colleague recalled that a common way of medically inducing labor inhibits maternal release of oxytocin, and she recalled a story about an acquaintance who (not whom) she knew had had the drugs and then an autistic kid.

It made the colleague wonder. If inhaling oxytocin alleviates symptoms of Aspergers, could a deficit of oxytocin at birth be involved in its cause? It is a stretch but not outlandish to conjecture that one could be related to the other.

If it did turn out to be true, one would have to ask if an increasing tendency in hospitals to induce labor could be related to the observed increase in autism.

I wish I were in a position to offer grant money for all the stuff I'd like to find out.

UPDATE: After I wrote this, I ran across this Nicholas Kristof column about the possibility of environmental toxins causing autism. That's possible, too.

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