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Oxytocin in the News

WHO Releases List of Top 30 Medicines Essential to Save Children

Tuesday, March 29 11:28 pm EST (2011)

Some 1,000 women die each day from complications of pregnancy or birth and more than eight million children under the age of 5 years-old die each year, from mostly preventable and treatable conditions. If key drugs were made available, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), those grave figures would drastically improve.

The WHO released a report, Priority medicines for mothers and children 2011, on March 21, 2011.  The list is a first  of its kind and is what the WHO have now referred to as “the top 30 medicines to save mothers and children”,  contains an essential list of drugs that every hospital and clinic in every developing country should have.  The list of drugs and vitamins which should be stocked by every health care provider, is a combination of those needed to ensure that maternal and child health in the developing world is adequately met and no child is left behind to suffer or die needlessly.  Included among some of the items on the top 30 list are; Oxytocin, saline solution, calcium gluconate, oral rehidration salts, zinc and vitamin A.

These 30 medicines are those which have deemed to be the most needed and vital to improving both maternal and child health, according to the WHO.  The medicines on the list were selected by experts in maternal and child health and medicines according to the global burden of disease and based on evidence of efficacy and safety. Medicines were selected from the Model List of Essential Medicines and are included in current WHO treatment guidelines.

Access to appropriate medicines for children is essential for achieving the child health goals including Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 (Reduce child mortality by two thirds) and MDG 6 (Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other major diseases).

Lack of medicines for children is a global problem, which most acutely affects developing countries. Worldwide many medicines for children are used “off-label”, that is their effects on children have not been studied and they are not licensed for use in children (WHO).

The list is a huge milestone in setting standards and procedures for countries to follow and to help decrease growing maternal and infant mortality rates across the globe.
Research Expands on Effects of Oxytocin; No Longer Just the ‘Cuddle Hormone’

Research Expands on Effects of Oxytocin; No Longer Just the ‘Cuddle Hormone’

Oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding between romantic partners and mothers and their children, has been found to also influence feelings of well-being and sensitivity to advertising.

The present research found that participants were more empathetic toward public service announcements after exposure to oxytocin. They were also more likely to donate to the advertised causes.

In general, higher levels of oxytocin are associated with greater happiness and empathy. Causality is still lacking in existing research: it is unclear whether oxytocin makes people happy, or whether happier people have more oxytocin.

The `cuddle hormone', as it has been termed, may also relieve stress and anxiety in social settings. In animal experiment, oxytocin reduced anxiety in stressed animals, but only if recovery occurred in the presence of a friend. This suggests that social contact may be a key factor in the hormone's ability to reduce stress.

Researchers further speculated that it may produce effects in new mothers that are more rewarding than cocaine. In the presence of their newborns, female rats' brains did not respond to learned cues associated with addictive drugs.

The findings, which were presented in at `Neuroscience 2010', the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, suggest that oxytocin is no longer just the `cuddle hormone'.


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