The side effects of oxytocin can be severe, noted Autism Diva (no need to reinvent the wheel):
"For example, when a patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder used it for 4 weeks, the patient showed clear improvement of that disorder. However, the patient also developed severe memory disturbances (oxytocin apparently helps mothers forget the pain of childbirth), psychotic symptoms, and marked changes in blood sodium levels, which may have masked the obsessive-compulsive symptoms."
James Ottar Grundvig wrote about oxytocin as an autism treatment recently, interviewing Dr. Hollander for the piece. According to Dr. Hollander, oxytocin:
"It stimulates social memories, reinforces reward. My research into Oxytocin came from translational research: the study of Oxytocin in animals and how it might be applied or translated to humans."
In 2003, Hollander et al. published a study in Neuropsychopharmacology which looked at autistic individuals and whether IV oxytocin would reduce repetitive behaviors. Their sample size was 21 individuals. According to Hollander et al., each "subject served as their own control" (p. 195). On the day of the 4 hour infusion, no change in repetitive behaviors was found in either the placebo or the oxytocin groups, although over time, the oxytocin group saw a statistically significant reduction in the behaviors they examined. These behaviors were defined as "need to know, repeating, ordering, need to tell/ask, self-injury, and touching" ( p. 195). The authors note that there was no significant differences at p<0.05, but there were at p<0.10.
With this small a sample size and how far out they had to go to find significant differences, it'd be a real stretch for me to be willing to hook one of my children up to a four hour infusion of oxytocin. Fortunately, that doesn't appear to be what the biomed parents are doing, though.
At least some of them are pissing their money away on Oxytocin Accelerator, the homeopathic version which will just waste 20 dollars of their hard-earned money a month. No harm no foul there.
What about additional research? Is there a potential role of oxytocin in emotion recognition? Baron-Cohen and fellow researchers are putting together a study to examine whether nasal oxytocin spray will help with emotion recognition:
"As far as is known there are no side-effects of the oxytocin inhalation method, which has been used safely by our collaborators in Zürich in typical individuals. We are interested to confirm if oxytocin affects social skills (especially empathy) positively and we also wish to test if oxytocin has any negative impact on areas of strength in autism (such as attention to detail). This study is still being considered for ethical approval as a nasal spray oxytocin method is not licenced for use in the UK. As with all treatments or interventions for autism, it is important that there are careful evaluations of their benefits and of any unwanted side-effects so that parents and clinicians can make informed choices about their use. Such evidence is collated on a central website at www.researchautism.net."
So, we don't know if this works, we don't know yet if it's safe. Why would you use your child as an experiment?