Survey of Kids and Cannabis

84% of the parents surveyed reported a reduction in their child’s seizure frequency while taking cannabidiol-enriched cannabis.

Severe childhood epilepsies are characterized by frequent seizures, neurodevelopmental delays, and impaired quality of life. In these treatment-resistant epilepsies, families often seek alternative treatments.

In the December 2013 issue of the journal Epilepsy and Behavior, Drs. Porter and Jacobsen from Stanford University investigate the use of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

The survey was presented to parents belonging to a Facebook group dedicated to sharing information about the use of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis to treat their child’s seizures.

Nineteen responses met the following inclusion criteria for the study: a diagnosis of epilepsy and current use of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis.

Thirteen children had Dravet syndrome, four had Doose syndrome, and one each had Lennox–Gastaut syndrome and idiopathic epilepsy.

The average number of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) tried before using cannabidiol-enriched cannabis was 12.

  • Sixteen (84%) of the 19 parents reported a reduction in their child’s seizure frequency while taking cannabidiol-enriched cannabis.
    • Of these, two (11%) reported complete seizure freedom
    • eight (42%) reported a greater than 80% reduction in seizure frequency
    • six (32%) reported a 25-60% seizure reduction.
  • Other beneficial effects included increased alertness, better mood, and improved sleep.
  • Side effects included drowsiness and fatigue.

The survey shows that parents are using cannabidiol-enriched cannabis as a treatment for their children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Calming Jayden’s Seizures from Ariana van den Akker on Vimeo.

Because of the increasing number of states that allow access to medical cannabis, its use will likely be a growing concern for the epilepsy community. Safety and tolerability data for cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use among children are not available.

Objective measurements of a standardized preparation of pure cannabidiol are needed to determine whether it is safe, well tolerated, and efficacious at controlling seizures in this pediatric population with difficult-to-treat seizures.

Keywords: Cannabidiol, Dravet syndrome, Epilepsy, Intractable, Medically refractory seizures, Pediatric, Side effects, Treatment-resistant

Brenda E. Porter, Catherine Jacobson, Epilepsy & Behavior, Volume 29, Issue 3, December 2013, Pages 574-577, ISSN 1525-5050, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2013.08.037. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1525505013004629)

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