The connection between pitocin/oxytocin and autism/adhd

Is there a relationship between pitocin/oxytocin labor use and autism or adhd? J Atten Disord. 2011 Jul;15(5):423-31. Epub 2011 Apr 28.

Perinatal Pitocin as an early ADHD biomarker: neurodevelopmental risk?

Kurth L, Haussmann R.



To investigate a potential relationship between coincidental increases in perinatal Pitocin usage and subsequent childhood ADHD onset in an attempt to isolate a specific risk factor as an early biomarker of this neurodevelopmental disorder.


Maternal labor/delivery and corresponding childbirth records of 172 regionally diverse, heterogeneous children, ages 3 to 25, were examined with respect to 21 potential predictors of later ADHD onset, including 17 selected obstetric complications, familial ADHD incidence, and gender. ADHD diagnosis and history of perinatal Pitocin exposure distinguished groups for comparison.


Results revealed a strong predictive relationship between perinatal Pitocin exposure and subsequent childhood ADHD onset (occurring in 67.1% of perinatal Pitocin cases vs. 35.6% in nonexposure cases, χ(2)=16.99, p<.001). Fetal exposure time, gestation length, and labor length also demonstrated predictive power, albeit significantly lower.

CONCLUSION: The findings warrant further investigation into the potential link between perinatal Pitocin exposure and subsequent ADHD diagnosis.


J Autism Dev Disord. 2003 Apr;33(2):205-8.

Brief report: pitocin induction in autistic and nonautistic individuals.

Gale S, Ozonoff S, Lainhart J.


Oxytocin plays an important role in social-affiliative behaviors. It has been proposed that exposure to high levels of exogenous oxytocin at birth, via pitocin induction of delivery, might increase susceptibility to autism by causing a downregulation of oxytocin receptors in the developing brain.

This study examined the rates of labor induction using pitocin in children with autism and matched controls with either typical development or mental retardation. Birth histories of 41 boys meeting the criteria for autistic disorder were compared to 25 age- and IQ-matched boys without autism (15 typically developing and 10 with mental retardation).

There were no differences in pitocin induction rates as a function of either diagnostic group (autism vs. control) or IQ level (average vs. subaverage range), failing to support an association between exogenous exposure to oxytocin and neurodevelopmental abnormalities.


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