Purpose of review
Since the federal ban on hemp products was lifted in December 2018, cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid derived from hemp, has become increasingly popular and accessible. CBD is sold in the form of oils, tablets, and foods in locations including gas stations, cafés, and drug stores. Despite a lack of reliable evidence, many parents praise its purported therapeutic effects on a variety of childhood ailments.
Epidiolex was the first CBD-based medication to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2018 for the treatment of two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, known as Lennox–Gastaut and Dravet syndrome, in patients of at least 2 years of age. Its efficacy was assessed through three randomized, double blind, and placebo-controlled trials in a sample of 516 patients with either Lennox–Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome. Despite this development, there are few or no large-scale, rigorous studies concerning the effects of CBD on any other pediatric conditions that parents have tried to alleviate with CBD. The purpose of this review is to explore recent literature regarding the efficacy and safety of CBD in treating various health conditions in children; the risks of consuming CBD products, and the role of pediatricians in helping parents navigate often-confusing information about CBD.
Although CBD use has dramatically increased in recent years, both its potential to treat conditions and its risks have not yet been subjected to rigorous study. Pediatricians should be aware of the risks posed by poor-quality standards and labeling practices for cannabinoid products. Due to the confusing nature of the numerous sources of information about CBD, pediatricians are in a position to provide and clarify information about CBD to parents and understand the risks it poses to children.