Cannabidiol in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder- Is It Effective? Parents` Reports

Dana Barchel 1 Orit Stoler 1 Tal De-Haan 1 Tomer Ziv-Baran 2 Naama Saban 5 Danny Or Fuchs 4 Gideon Koren 3 Matitiahu Berkovitch 1
1Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology unit, Assaf Harofeh Medical Center
2Epidemiology, Sackler School of Medicine
3Research and Innovation Health Services, Maccabi Institute of Research and Innovation Health Services
4no affiliation, no affiliation
5Tikun olam company, Tikun olam company

Objective: Parents of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) are often in search for treatment to alleviate serious symptoms such as aggression, hyperactivity and anxiety. There is a large increase in the use of cannabidiol in children with ASD, although no published evidence on efficacy and safety exists. In this study we aim to report, for the first time, the experience of parents who administer licensed oral cannabinoids to their children with ASD.

Study Design: After obtaining license from the Israeli Ministry of Health through their pediatricians , parents of children with ASD were instructed by a nurse practitioner how to administer oral drops of cannabidiol oil. Data on efficacy and safety were prospectively.

Results: 53 children [median age of 11 (4-22) years] received cannabidiol for a median duration of 66 (30-588) days. Self-injury and rage attacks (n=34) improved, in 67.6%, did not change in 15.1% and worsened in 8.8%,. Hyperactivity symptoms (n=30) improved in 70%, did not change in 26.6% and worsened in 3.3%. Sleep problems (n=21) improved in 71.4%, did not change in 23.8%, and worsened in 4.7%. Anxiety and mood problems (n=17) improved in 47.1%, did not change in 29.4% and worsened in 23.5%. Social communication skills (n= 15) improved in 86.7% and did not improve in 13.3%. Overall rate of improvement in symptoms was 74.5%. Adverse effects were mild and transient.

Conclusions: Cannabidiol appears to be effective in improving ASD symptoms; however, long-term effects should be evaluated in large-scale studies.

Dana Barchel
Dana Barchel