Picotin and Autism – A Link?

Picotin and Autism From: Dr. Chun Wong

Is there a link between the usage of picotin, an artificial hormone given to induce or speed up labor, and the rise in autism statistics? Are we causing autism by our use of such drugs in the birth process?

The theory of a link between picotin and autism is a controversial one, and a rather worrying one, but it is something that needs further research so that we can rule it out or do something about it.

It first entered the public forum when Geoffrey Cowley, a Newsweek reporter, interviewed physician Dr Eric Hollander of New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine for an article back in July 2000 (see for “Understanding Autism” article). Dr Hollander had made the startling discovery that 60% of his autistic patients had been exposed to picotin in the womb, when their mothers’ labors had been induced, and said:

“In some individuals whose oxytocin system could be genetically vulnerable, a strong environmental early hit while the brain is still developing could down-regulate the oxytocin system, leading to developmental problems. But this is only a hypothesis that has been observed by association.”

What is Picotin?

Picotin is a synthetic version of oxytocin, a hormone that is naturally produced by a woman’s brain to produce spontaneous labor. When oxytocin is produced in the woman’s body, it triggers uterine contractions which cause the woman’s cervix to dilate and which also propel the baby through the birth canal. When a woman goes past her due date or needs to be induced for some reason, picotin can be used to artificially induce labor or speed things up.

What is its link to Autism?

An article on Autism Today’s website (see points out that oxytocin is also produced during breastfeeding and during sexual orgasms, which are both events ” associated with experiences of great emotional bonding and include meaningful social interaction between the individuals involved”. Autism Today wonders if there is therefore a link between a baby being flooded with “this gender-specific synthetic hormone from animals” and autism spectrum disorders where a child may have an inability to bond with others, socialize and make relationships. Does pitocin exposure interfere with psychological functioning? An interesting question.

Another theory linking pitocin and autism is that the drug causes enormous pressure on the baby’s cranium during the birth process, much more than during spontaneous natural labor. New York’s “Naturally” magazine (quoted at says:

“Today’s obstetrical practices, notably Pitocin and Epidural can result in compression in the baby’s skull. This occurs because the drugs interfere with the rhythm of birth, which is based on the relationship between expansion and contraction of the plates of the baby’s skull and the expansion and contraction in the mother’s pelvis to enable the baby to pass through the birth canal. With the mother’s rhythm altered by the drugs, the baby’s head is subjected to enormous pressure during birth, which can result in cranial compression. This in turn can put pressure on the brain and cranial nerves, among other effects. Again, the developing nervous system is compromised. One doctor likens birth under these conditions to using the baby’s head as battering ram, with the Pitocin speeding up the birth rhythm. His clinical analysis of his autistic patients revealed that in 60% of the cases Pitocin was used during birth.

Is there really a link?

The Autism Today article also points out that when a woman is induced with pitocin she is also often given many other drugs and interventions, so can we really say that it is pitocin alone that is a factor in autism? Other drugs and interventions often used alongside pitocin include:-

  • Other IV fluids
  • Increased electric fetal monitoring causing the woman to be sedentary during her labor.
  • Increased chance of the woman being given narcotic pain relievers or an epidural because the labor is more painful.
  • Increased chance of assisted delivery (forceps or vacuum extraction)

So, Autism Today asks whether it may actually be a combination of drugs, or a combination of drugs and physical problems, which could be a causative factor for autism, rather than the use of pitocin alone.

A study entitled “Pitocin induction in autistic and nonautistic individuals” by S Gale, S Ozonoff and J Lainhart, examining the rates of labor induction using pitocin, looked at the birth histories of 41 autistic boys and 25 IQ-matched and age-matched boys without autism, and failed to find a link between the use of pitocin and neurodevelopmental abnormalities.

Whatever our thoughts on this, the use of pitocin is climbing, along with autism rates, and its possible link to developmental disorders does warrant further research.

Two decades ago, the former president of the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Roberto Caldreyo-Barcia, MD, stated that “Pitocin is the most abused drug in the world today”, and many feel that in the majority of cases its use just isn’t medically necessary. Perhaps we should only “interfere” with nature when absolutely necessary, when a mother or her child are in danger.

Further Reading

You can read more about the possible link between pitocin and autism at the following sites:-


15 thoughts on “Picotin and Autism – A Link?

  • Both of my children were birthed using Pitocin, not picotin. Both are fine. Distrust and research anything that takes your money. One can find natural cures naturally. Drink more water. ( Cook your own food from natural ingredients. Use sea salt instead of mineral salt. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.

  • Everyone run over to this “doctor’s” website.  He will sell you the books, newsletters, and website membership that will certainly cure your child of Autism…all for the low price of $530.00 (US currency).

    Not kidding.  That is his price to provide you with all the information you need to cure your kid.

    He even states on his website that children born head first, which is considers to be the breech position, are twice as likely to have ASD.  Yes, boys and girls…head first is now breech instead of feet first and head first is twice as likely to get you a kid with Autism. 

  • Great post!  Thanks for sharing!

    It’s a step in the right direction at the very least to be willing to admit that autism is most likely caused by something medicinal.  Hopefully we will someday be able to uncover what that cause is.

  • Isn’t it pitocin? Or is there another drug called picotin that does the same thing?

  • If you are going to blog about something, at least learn how to spell it.  My personal experience is that pitocin (that’s p-i-t-o-c-i-n) does not cause autism, at least it didn’t in my child.

     @SarahAriella@xanga – It’s nice to know someone thought to check it out and nice to know that’s it’s not  true.  Sorry you have still not found a cause and cure.

  • I don’t care if this was written by a doctor, if he can’t spell the word correctly, then in my book, he is a quack. My daughter was induced with Pitocin because I had pre-eclampsia, and she does not suffer from Autism. Thanks for scaring lots of new and expectant mothers. 

  • I’m thinking that maybe you mean “Pitocin”?  I’ve never heard of “Picotin” but maybe I’m just missing something…

  • While I’m not a doctor or researcher… I do know that a whole lot of babies are induced with pitocin and are perfectly healthy and do not have autism.  I also hear from a lot of parents of children with autism that they actually had totally natural child birth (thus adding to the confusion of “what went wrong”).

    By the way, I also like the way the doctor who authored this misspelled the drug in question.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure if we’re hearing more about these things due to awareness or if autism really is “on the rise”. And if it is, there must be a reason. I do remember seeing an episode of “White Shadow” that featured an autistic character. I think that was progressive, considering it was the 70s, but a lot has changed since then in the way we birth and how we medicate our children during early development. We are using more drugs, and often unnecessarily. If drugs aren’t completely to blame, they at least play some part.

    I only know a handful of autistic children now. I grew up with one, so I’m not an expert or anything. I’ve just always wondered what caused it. If it were simply a case of mutated genes, then the numbers wouldn’t be so high. Pharmaceuticals definitely have a hand in this. *puts foil hat back on and scurries away*

  • The only “quackery” that goes on in the world of modern medicine are the forcing of synthetic compounds down the throats of the general public that are intended to cause problems (yes, intended, side effects are INTENTIONALLY ENGINEERED people). 

    Hence I don’t use medicine and hence I wouldn’t be surprised if this theory turns out true. It seems like a new theory in need of further research, however, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. You gotta love physicians, Big Pharma, and the FDA and their dirty work, let me tell you!!!!

  • pitocin? I think you have it spelled wrong

  • Yet another disproven theory.  Recent studies have shown that by and large, labor induction does not lead to learning difficulties in children.  In fact, there was just a medical study done that showed a decreased risk factor in that babies born as a result of induction had fewer learning disabilities.  Go back and try to find another way to scare the hell out of parents.

    Once again, my son must break the freaking mold of quackery in theories of causation.  He was not induced. 


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