March 13, 2019
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Cannabis appears safe, effective in young patients with autism

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Cannabis seemed safe, effective and well-tolerated in treating young patients with autism, according to findings recently published in Scientific Reports.

“No specific treatments [for autism] are currently available, and interventions are focusing on lessening of the disruptive behaviors, training and teaching self-help skills for a greater independence,” Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, MA, of the Clinical Cannabis Research Institute and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er-Sheva, Israel, and colleagues wrote.

Researchers analyzed data from 93 patients (mean age, 12.9 years), most of whom received three daily doses of an oil that consisted of 30% cannabidiol and 1.5% tetrahydrocannabinol.

Bar-Lev Schleider and colleagues found that after 6 months, 30.1% of patients reported significant improvement, 53.7% reported moderate improvement, 6.4% reported slight improvement and 8.6% had no change in their condition. Also, 23 patients experienced at least one adverse event, and the most common being restlessness.

Other findings include:

  • 66.8% of patients reported a good quality of life vs. 31.3% before treatment;
  • 63.5% of patients’ parents reported positive mood vs. 42% before treatment;
  • 42.9% of patients reported the ability to dress and shower independently vs. 26.4% before treatment;
  • 24.7% of patients reported good sleep vs. 3.3% before treatment; and
  • 14% of patients reported good concentration vs. 0% before treatment.

Despite the “encouraging” findings, it is too early to change clinical practice based on them, Gal Meiri, MD, study co-author and clinical director of Autism Research Israel told Healio Primary Care Today.

Child with Autism 
Cannabis seemed safe, effective and well-tolerated in treating young patients with autism, according to findings recently published in Scientific Reports.
Source:Shutterstock

“These results give us hope and justification for future in-depth studies, which will hopefully prove safety and efficacy,” she said in the interview. – by Janel Miller

Disclosures: Bar-Lev Schleider reports being an employee of Tikun-Olam Limited Company. Meiri reports to relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.