'Love hormone' may reduce autism symptoms

The "love hormone," released at childbirth and during sex, is being used in a U.S. trial of young adults with autism spectrum disorders, researchers say.

Dr. Eric Hollander, the center's advisory board chairman and chairman of the psychiatry at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says giving oxytocin may improve social functioning and repetitive behaviors -- irrespective of the age of the patient.

"For the first time, certain core systems of autism may respond to treatment," Hollander says in a statement.

In the trial, autistic patients age 18 and older, who were given oxytocin nasally for 12 weeks significantly reduced their repetitive behavior, and were better able to recognize anger or happiness in the tone of a speaker's voice.

Upbeat results were also provided in a similar age group who took the peptide intravenously, the study said.

Autism spectrum disorders refers to a group of symptoms, like a profound inability to communicate and other developmental disorders.