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Looking at CBD use in pediatrics

Cannabidiol (CBD) products can be found in a variety of places from specialty shops to mainstream retailers like Target and Sephora with a growing number of adults using them regularly, but what about children? A poll finds out what parents think about using the products for their children and how many have used them.

These days it’s hard to go down a health and beauty aisle in the store without seeing some product trumpeting the efficacy of the cannabidiol (CBD) used in the product. It’s found in lotions, oils, teas, drinks, and other products meant to reduce anxiety. Although CBD has grown in popularity for adults, less is known about whether parents are using it for their children and when they might be using it. The latest poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, asked 1992 parents of children aged 3 to 18 years about CBD use in children.1

Most of the parents either said they’d never heard of CBD (34%) or knew very little about its use in children (46%). Just 17% of parents reported some knowledge and 3% said that they knew a lot about using the substance in children. Nearly 3 out of 4 parents had never used anything containing CBD. Only 5% of parents stated that they used a product with CBD on a regular basis and 24% had tried CBD at least once.

Parents had a number of factors that were highly important to their decision of whether to use a CBD product on their child, including:

  1. Side effects (83%)
  2. Tested for safety in children (78%)
  3. Its efficacy in children (72%)
  4. If it was recommended by their pediatrician (63%)
  5. Approval status from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (58%)
  6. Product reviews (41%)

Most of the parents said that CBD products should be regulated by the FDA and 74% said that using CBD for children should require a prescription from a doctor. A similar number thought that CBD could be a good option when other medications are found to not work. Thirty-five percent of parents believe that using CBD is the same as using marijuana. The vast majority of parents have never given their child a CBD product and would not consider using one. Just 4% have considered its use and only 2% have given a CBD-containing product to their child. One percent of parents indicated that their child had used a CBD product without their permission. Among the subset of parents who had given or considered giving CBD to their child, 29% had discussed CBD use with their child’s health care provider.

The most common reasons for using or considering the use of CBD included:

  1. anxiety (51%)
  2. sleep problems (40%)
  3. attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (33%)
  4. muscle pain (20%)
  5. autism spectrum disorder (19%)
  6. general wellbeing (13%)

The poll’s authors noted that there were a great deal of inconsistencies in parental attitudes toward CBD including many believing that CBD products should be regulated by the FDA, but fewer listing FDA approval as an important concern determining personal use. Nearly three-quarters of the polled parents wanted health care providers to be the gatekeepers for CBD through prescribing powers, but only a small percentage of parents who had used it/considered using it for their children had asked their child’s clinician about its use. The authors underscored the need for parents to discuss CBD use in children with the family’s health care providers. Additionally, the lack of regulation for CBD products could mean that some contain more tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the active compound found in marijuana, than the 0.0% that many labels claim.

Reference

1. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. National Poll on Children's Health: Parent perspectives on CBD use in children. 2022;40(3). Available at: https://mottpoll.org/reports/parent-perspectives-cbd-use-children. Published February 21, 2022. Accessed March 1, 2022.