Maternal pheromones and autism
  • Imitation is the key mechanism whereby human children learn the implicit rules of social interaction. We learn by mirroring and being mirrored. That's why failures in parental mirroring stunt social development (and therefore self-development.) In autism, the child fails to observe social cues from others.

    A new study in the journal Biological Psychiatry found that exposure to the axillary secretions of their own mothers (but not other mothers) improved this deficit.
    The maternal odor, which conveys a social message otherwise neglected, helps autistic children to covertly imitate the actions of others. Our results represent a starting point holding theoretical and practical relevance for the development of new strategies to enhance communication and social behavior among autistic individuals.
    This seems to suggest that a mother's pheromone output plays a critical role in the child's social development. So, could the use of antibacterial soaps and antiperspirant deodorants may be playing a role in the autism epidemic?
  • It's a very interesting notion. Especially given how easy treatment might be.

    On a tangent; I wonder about the autism epidemic sometimes. It seems that so many conditions are being re-defined as autism. It's become a huge waste basket. How accurate are comparisons between now and 50 years ago in the number of people who are autistic. I look at skyrocketing autism numbers and I'm not sure what I'm even looking at.
  • This type of information makes me feel doubly uneasy about the use of pheromones in family relationships, too. How much of a marital relationship might hinge on biocompatibility, indicated by pheromone output?

    And relationships to our children? It's entirely possible that we could improve our children's social standing by using pheromones to acculturate them into a position of increased status, but if we're not careful we could potentially disrupt important bonding principles that are necessary for healthy emotional development.
  • How much of a marital relationship might hinge on biocompatibility, indicated by pheromone output?

    In what sense? People wouldn't use them if they didn't get short term benefits, right?
    I mean, we're not talking about altering the MHC...

    Relationships to children, that's an interesting one.

    I was reading a bit about aromatase inhibitors recently. It sounds like they might have the potential to increase height in children.

    I don't know how bonding works, pheromonally. But I wouldn't be surprised if some of this stuff could increase the estrogen production of kids, effectively lowering height. Or, it could be used to do the reverse...?
  • Pheromones confer short-term benefits in sexual attraction, comfort, sociability, etc -- but I'm wondering if the secret sauce that causes bonding might be so far beyond our understanding that meddling with it could... falsify(?) a relationship.

    On the other hand, natural output probably shifts pretty intensely with age, stress, and health status. It could be that intentional alteration of the scent dynamics could lead to more authentic, intentional relationships if used well.

    It's a good question about children's growth factors. So far no one has reported changes in their own hormone levels, apart from MEO-EST users.

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