Products containing cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound found naturally in marijuana and hemp, have been used in recent years to help adults manage medical conditions like chronic pain and mood disorders.
Although its use is much more limited in children, some CBD products have also been marketed for minors.
But despite the wide availability of CBD, parents have limited knowledge about it, with one-third believing it’s the same as using marijuana, suggests Children’s Hospital National Child Health Survey Mott from the University of Michigan.
And although the majority hadn’t even considered their child using a CBD product, three-quarters of parents seemed open-minded about the possibility, saying it could be a good option for medical care when other drugs don’t work.
There is very little data on how CBD can impact children’s developing brains and only certain types of situations when considered for pediatric medical reasons. Yet CBD has become much more accessible and widely advertised, with some companies claiming benefits for children.”
Sarah Clark, MPH, co-director of Mott Poll
The nationally representative poll report is based on responses from 1,992 parents of children ages 3 to 18 surveyed in October 2021.
The most common reasons for parents to give or consider CBD for their child are anxiety (51%), sleep problems (40%), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD (33%), muscle pain (20%), autism (19%). %), and to make their child feel better in general (13%). These reasons match the conditions that some CBD products claim to help in brochures and promotional materials.
While three-quarters of parents felt CBD for children should require a doctor’s prescription, only 63% rated their child’s doctor’s recommendation as an important factor in deciding whether or not to give their child a CBD product. And of the 7% of parents who say they have given or considered giving their child CBD, less than a third say they have spoken with their child’s healthcare provider about using CBD.
“Our survey suggests that most parents have very limited knowledge about CBD products,” Clark said. “It’s important for parents to let their pediatrician or other health care providers know if they are considering using CBD in children so they can discuss the potential risks.”
Most parents cited side effects as the most important factor in deciding whether or not to give their child a CBD product. Other considerations included whether it was tested for safety in children (78%), its effectiveness in children (72%), the recommendation of their child’s doctor (63%), the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (58%), and product reviews (41%).
Most parents (71%) have never used a CBD product themselves, while 24% have tried CBD and 5% regularly use a CBD product, according to the survey report.
Many unknowns about side effects
CBD products are sold online and in specialty CBD product stores, as well as supermarkets and pharmacies and come in many forms, including oils, topical ointments, vaping, edibles and gummies. .
The FDA has only approved one purified form of the CBD drug substance for children to treat rare seizures that do not respond to medication. Studies have also looked at the use of CBD in children with hyperactivity, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and depression, but research remains limited.
Side effects could include drowsiness, fatigue and diarrhea, and experts have expressed concerns about CBD’s potential to interact with other medications and negatively impact the liver. But because CBD products have not undergone rigorous testing for FDA approval, the rate and severity of side effects remain unclear, especially for children.
To be legal, CBD must contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that produces most of the psychological and “high” effects of marijuana. Many manufacturers claim to contain nearly 0% THC, but the lack of regulation of CBD products also raises questions about quality control in the production of various products, experts say.
“Parents who see promotional content claiming that CBD benefits children with certain conditions should be aware that products seen online or in stores are not FDA regulated and may be mislabeled,” Clark said. “It is therefore difficult for parents to know exactly what they are buying and what their child may be exposed to.
“Anecdotal stories of children benefiting from CBD may sound enticing, but just because it’s a plant-based product doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe or effective in children. We need more evidence to understand the short- and long-term side effects of CBD in children.”