Recent Studies Strengthen Link Between Pitocin and Autism

Staff Writer | August 28th, 2013

Pitocin and Autism - Duke University Study Shows LinkA recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics suggests that there may be a link between the growing number of autism cases in recent decades and induced labor. More specifically, the study points to the birth inducing drug Pitocin as the most likely culprit in the autism epidemic. Pitocin is an artificially synthesized compound that is identical to the naturally occurring hormone oxytocin, which is normally released by the mother in large amounts during childbirth. More advanced studies have also linked oxytocin to certain behaviors like pair bonding, anxiety and social recognition.

Autism is a growing epidemic among children, with one in 88 children diagnosed with the disorder. This disorder is almost ten times more prevalent now than it was 40 years ago, with some statistics showing a 10 to 17 percent increase annually in recent years. The most common symptoms of autism include difficulty with social interaction, diminished verbal or nonverbal communication skills, and repetitive behaviors.

The link between Pitocin and autism

The study in JAMA Pediatrics was conducted by Duke University and found that Pitocin has become more commonly used to induce labor in recent decades. The Duke University report follows prior studies which suggest that some of the side effects of Pitocin include lower Apgar scores, which indicate general health, and a higher risk of neonatal intensive care.

Another study by Dr. Sue Carter of the Psychiatry Department at the University of Illinois found a strong link between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and oxytocin, the natural precursor of Pitocin. Dr. Carter stressed that oxytocin may have the most developmental impact on prenatal or early postnatal infants. The study suggests that use of Pitocin to induce childbirth can be a substantial risk factor for the onset of autism spectrum disorders.

While these studies have described the link between Pitocin and autism as primarily neurochemical in nature, a book by Stephanie Marohn suggests that Pitocin may have a physiological impact. Marohn compares the Pitocin-induced contractions to using the infant’s head like a battering ram. The unnaturally strong contractions may deform the soft skull of the child, placing undue pressure upon the cranial nerves, which may ultimately produce autism or other traumatic brain injuries.

Legal remedies for Pitocin injuries

Parents of children who are autistic or present ASD symptoms may be able to pursue legal action against the doctor, nurses or hospital that administered Pitocin. In a recent case involving the University of Iowa Hospital, a couple received almost $3.75 million in a settlement for the permanent brain injuries her son received during childbirth. The mother was administered Pitocin without first determining if her contractions were of normal intensity or frequency.

New York medical malpractice attorneys

While the exact details of each Pitocin induced childbirth are unique and can influence the decision to file a lawsuit, it is in the best interests of parents of autistic or brain injured children to discuss their case with a malpractice attorney.

The New York medical malpractice lawyers at The Sanders Firm have extensive experience in managing cases involving Pitocin induction and injured or stillborn infants, and are committed to helping families recover the fair and just compensation they deserve. If you live in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, or Long Island, call us today toll-free at 1-800-FAIR PLAY for a free case evaluation.


  1. Autismspeaks.org, What is Autism? http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism

  2. Psychiatric Times, Oxytocin, Pitocin, and Autism: Researchers Wrestle With Links, http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/oxytocin-pitocin-and-autism-researchers-wrestle-links

  3. The Stir, Scary Baby Brain Damage Lawsuit Could Spell Trouble for Pitocin Births, http://thestir.cafemom.com/baby/139945/scary_baby_brain_damage_lawsuit