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Can medicinal cannabis help mentally disabled children with behavioral problems?

by druginc

Can medicinal cannabis help mentally disabled children with behavioral problems?

A first pilot study is currently being conducted in Australia on the efficacy of medicinal cannabis as a treatment for severe behavioral problems in children with intellectual disabilities. It is hoped that the research will eventually culminate in larger clinical trials following anecdotal reports that medicinal cannabis can reduce incidents of aggression and self-harm in children.

The study is led by Daryl Efron of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and will initially only work with 10 children between the ages of eight and XNUMX. This preliminary study is intended to first evaluate the practicalities and feasibility of the treatment before a larger scale trial takes place.

“The most commonly prescribed drugs for these children are stimulants, antidepressants and antipsychotics, all of which carry the risk of serious side effects,” says Efron. "There is little research on new drugs to help these children, but medical cannabis has been shown to be effective in treating other medical conditions, including some serious epilepsy in children, and side effects of chemotherapy and multiple sclerosis in adults."

At this stage, Australian research focuses specifically on one particular cannabinoid chemical found in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD). Last year, the FDA approved CBD to treat two rare forms of severe childhood epilepsy. This landmark approval marked the first time a cannabis-derived substance had been officially approved for medical use in the United States.

The research is inspired by a growing body of anecdotal evidence suggesting that CBD is effective in reducing incidents of self-harm and physical aggression in children with intellectual disabilities, including autism. The volume and size of these anecdotal reports has increased significantly in recent years, partly due to the legalization of marijuana spread across North America, but qualitative scientific research in the area is currently lacking.

In the United States there are currently several studies underway into CBD as a treatment for the symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASS). From the beginning of 2019, the very first large-scale clinical study focused on children with ASD had started. This specific study examines the efficacy of cannabidivarin (CBDV), a homologue of CBD, in the treatment of repetitive behavior and the irritability of ASD in children.

The Australian initial pilot study is slightly broader than American work, and includes a wider range of intellectual disabilities associated with serious aggressive behavior. It is still unclear how effective or safe these treatments are, especially when given to younger children, but Efron confirms the urgent need to complete this study and science.

“As a pediatrician, parents often ask me if medicinal cannabis would help their children,” says Efron. "But I cannot advise on the effectiveness of medical cannabis for children with serious behavioral problems because there has been no field research and we hope to fill that void with qualitative research now."

Read the full article on Newatlas (EN, source)
See also Murdoch Children's Research Institute (EN, source)

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Leydy Pedroza April 1, 2021 - 12:34

Hola mi hijo tiene retraso mental leve, y tengo problemas con el comportamiento y agresividad.el siquiatra le recetó haloperidol (lo pone peor) y carbamasepina, pero no logro q se calme, y adicional q se concentre
Si me pueden ayudar, solo necesito q el niño se calme y se concentrate, mi pregunta es, la marijuana medicinal me ayudaría?
Quedo muy agradecida

druginc April 2, 2021 - 11:00

Dear Leydy,

Thank you for your response. We know the Dutch company https://wietolie.nl - maybe you can get in contact with them and ask for more advice?

Good luck!