CBD For Kids: Are There Any Risks?

CBD is becoming increasingly popular among adults, even without scientific evidence supporting its use. Parents who have had good individual experiences with CBD may consider giving it to their kids. However, it is important to consider the safety and potential risks associated with CBD-containing products for children and the legal considerations of giving CBD to a child.

Key takeaways:
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    The only CBD product approved by the FDA is Epidiolex, which is used to treat two rare types of childhood epilepsy.
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    The safety of CBD products for children is still being studied, and there are concerns about efficacy, side effects, legal ramifications, and the long-term effects of CBD use in developing brains.

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What do we know about CBD?

CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive chemical compound naturally present in cannabis plants and, specifically, hemp plants. While hemp-derived CBD products are legal at the federal level, marijuana-derived products (which contain psychoactive THC) are subject to various state laws and regulations.

Research into the potential therapeutic effects of CBD is ongoing. However, we still lack conclusive studies on their therapeutic benefits, the most effective dosages, the best forms of administration for various health issues, and the legality of cannabis-related products overall. Current studies are often inconclusive or provide conflicting evidence about CBD's efficacy, and most consumers rely on anecdotal evidence when choosing CBD products.

The only cannabis-derived medicine approved by the FDA is Epidiolex, which contains CBD. Epidolex has effectively treated two rare types of childhood epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). It has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in children, even in cases where other treatments have failed.

Is CBD safe for kids?

Some parents have turned to CBD gummies or CBD oil as a potential treatment option for their children for anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, or behavioral issues like aggression. However, the safety of these products for children is still being studied, and there are concerns about efficacy, potential side effects, legal ramifications, and the long-term effects of CBD use in developing brains.

The safety and legality of giving CBD (cannabidiol) products to children is a complex issue that depends on several factors, including the source of the CBD, the method of administration, the dosage, and the child's medical history. More research is needed to confirm that CBD is safe for kids or can have therapeutic effects for anxiety and other mental health issues in children.

Parents may want to exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional before giving CBD to a child.

How much CBD should you give your kids?

There is no recommended dose of CBD to give children. However, studies show promising results for the use of CBD for treating anxiety, pain, seizures, psychotic symptoms, and inflammation, generally using doses ranging between <1 and 50 mg/kg/d (i.e., <62–3100 mg/d for an adult). This indicates that dosing is typically between 1 and 50 mg of CBD per day per kilogram of the patient's body mass.

If a parent decides to administer CBD to their child, experts recommend starting at the lowest dose for their body weight per day. Since 50 kg roughly equals 110 lbs, a child may be given 1 to 5 mg to start at that weight. CBD gummies typically have between 5 and 30 mg of CBD each.

Does CBD help kids with anxiety?

Small studies have also suggested that CBD may have potential therapeutic effects for anxiety symptoms that appear alongside psychiatric conditions such as PTSD and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

One of the most often-cited studies on CBD for anxiety involved administering 300 mg to adult subjects before asking them to speak publicly. In this isolated situation, pretreatment with CBD did reduce anxiety during the speech.

CBD may be a potential treatment for anxiety disorders, including those in children, such as social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and other anxiety-related behaviors. However, more research is required before any conclusions can be drawn.

Will CBD help combat child aggression?

Studies on the use of CBD oil for child aggression have involved children on the autism spectrum.

These studies have reported a reduction in symptoms in children who suffer from aggressive episodes, hyperactivity, sleep disorders, and anxiety given a CBD oil at a concentration of 30% containing THC (with a maximum dose of 600 mg of CBD and 40 mg of THC). However, the study relied on subjective parental reporting of symptoms, and the authors were employed by the company that manufactured the CBD oil.

Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are still needed to gauge CBD's effect on child aggression.

Can CBD help with ADHD in children?

Research on the use of CBD for kids with ADHD is still lacking, and many of the products tested in studies include THC in addition to CBD. Therefore, it's unclear whether CBD is beneficial for children with ADHD, especially those who are not on the autism spectrum.

A 2017 randomized, placebo-controlled pilot trial examined the effects of a cannabis-based medication called Sativex®, which contains both THC and CBD, on adults with ADHD. Sativex® appeared to improve hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and emotional lability in subjects, but further evidence is necessary to demonstrate that CBD alone is effective for treating symptoms of ADHD in children.

What are the risks of using CBD oil for children?

The biggest risk of CBD oil for kids (as well as CBD gummies) is that they are not regulated and may contain THC or other chemicals. A child given a large dose of CBD could end up ingesting the psychoactive compound, which has medical risks and legal implications for adults who administer the products to children.

Because research is ongoing, there are no CBD dosing guidelines for children. This, combined with the fact that some CBD products may contain more or less CBD than stated on the label, can lead to giving children larger doses than intended. This may cause it to interfere with other commonly used medications.

While parents are increasingly exploring CBD products for children's emotional and behavioral issues, there is no evidence that CBD is effective for treating anything other than seizures in rare cases of epilepsy. Nevertheless, CBD gummies and oils from reliable companies appear to do little harm as long as they do not contain THC. The long-term effects of CBD on children have not been explored, so it is a potential experimental treatment that requires attention to product details.

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