CBD & Autism

September 11, 2019
Andrew J Schuman, MD, FAAP

Dr Schuman, section editor for Peds v2.0, is clinical assistant professor of Pediatrics, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, New Hampshire, and editorial advisory board member of Contemporary Pediatrics.

I have been asked by parents several time regarding the use of a cannabidiol (CBD) product to calm their aggressive autistic children when other medications have not been effective. It would be tempting to recommend CBD/THC products to help parents in this regard, but my concerns about safety as well as efficacy have dissuaded me from doing so.

 

I have been asked by parents several time regarding the use of a cannabidiol (CBD) product to calm their aggressive autistic children when other medications, including aripiprazole, risperidone, sertraline, fluoxetine, and others have not been effective. It would be tempting to recommend CBD/THC products to help parents in this regard, but my concerns about safety as well as efficacy have dissuaded me from doing so. Although 3 observational studies of autistic children with medication containing both CBD and THC show promise for controlling aggressive behavior in these patients, there have been no randomized clinical trials showing CBD’s efficacy and safety for autistic patients. Over the next few years, I anticipate new recommendations are likely to be issued by the US Food and Drug Administration and medical organizations, regarding prescribing CBD medications for autistic children.