An initial concern regarding the link between artificially induced oxytocin and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been invalidated. The study was published on Feb. 9 in the online publication Pediatrics.
Oxytocin is a hormone involved in birth. And whenever a mother faces problems involving progressing during labour, she receives an artificial correspondent of this hormone that goes by its brand name – Pitocin, which is naturally produced by the mother’s body. This supplement gives the mother a boost in order to go on with the labor. This synthetic version of the hormone is commonly referred to as “augmentation.” It basically makes sure that the cervix will continue dilating and the baby will come out in a smoother manner.
The study was conducted by Mette Juhl, Ph.D., M.P.H., who is an associate professor of midwifery at the Metropolitan University College in Copenhagen, Denmark. Juhl and her colleagues looked at toddlers who had received an ADHD diagnosis on one hand, or a prescription for ADHD medication on the other hand. All in all they studied more than 546,000 Danish mothers.
Afterwards, out of this study group, they compared the 26% of the children born to mothers who received oxytocin for labor augmentation to the children of mothers who did not receive any outside boost. And they found that only 0.9% of the children who had been exposed to oxytocin were actually diagnosed with ADHD or treated for the condition.
“Animal studies have found that oxytocin is passed on from mother to fetus via the placental barrier, and that the fetal brain has been affected by exposure to oxytocin,” said Juhl.
But she explained that this doesn’t apply to humans. What really validates this theory is the large group of subjects they studied on. Half a million is an encouraging figure that can equally and fairly represent a majority.
Moreover the study’s finding according to which ADHD and oxytocin augmentation are unrelated is redeeming. But what scientists found regarding the ADHD occurence is that this condition is more present in children born to women under 20 years old, in the ones who had a gestational age of less than 32 weeks at delivery and in the ones who had weighted less than 6.35 pounds at the time of birth.