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CBD Effective for Treating Symptoms of Autism in Children

Updated on February 29, 2020.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

In an encouraging development for parents or caregivers of children with autism, an Israeli study from 2018 has found that oral cannabidiol (CBD) drops can significantly improve a range of symptoms and behaviors associated with autism. For instance, sleep issues improved in a whopping 71 percent of participants, while symptoms of hyperactivity decreased in 68 percent of the children. Self-injurious or aggressive behaviors also decreased by about 68 percent of the participants, and anxiety symptoms improved for 47 percent of the children in the study. What’s more, only a few downsides—including mild changes in appetite and sleep—were observed.  

Admittedly, the sample size of 53 children and youth, ranging from four to 22 years of age, was small enough to warrant follow-up research on a larger scale. Each participant received CBD for at least a month (with a median of 66 days) and caregivers reported the children’s behaviors to interviewers every two weeks.

According to the CDC, around one in 59 children in the U.S. has autism. While autism shows up as a wide range or spectrum, kids with the condition often show developmental delays, repetitive behaviors, and communication difficulties, among other challenges. And while many children with autism could potentially benefit from the use of medical marijuana, few have the opportunity. Children’s medical access to CBD has improved in the last few years, but many barriers remain for caregivers hoping to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for children on the autism spectrum. As new studies like this one emerge, that could change. 

Interested in learning more about the benefits of medical marijuana for kids with autism? Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA) is an education and advocacy nonprofit founded to help ensure that everyone caring for a child with autism has access to safe and legal medical marijuana. The organization tracks news and research on the issue and encourages parents to help change laws. Or, click to find a qualified medical marijuana doctor.

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