For Immediate Release
Public Health Information
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The Dangers of Giving CBD to Children
Our community has recently seen an increase in children needing emergency medical care with CBD in their system. CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is extracted from marijuana or hemp and does not contain THC. THC is the chemical in marijuana that has psychoactive effects and may make you feel high.
You may be asking yourself at this moment if it is even legal to even give your child CBD in North Carolina? The only situation where any marijuana or a hemp product is 100% legal within our state is to treat children that have epilepsy. It is through the North Carolina's Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act that children can use CBD hemp oil for the treatment of difficult-to-control seizures in children with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome, which are two rare forms of epilepsy. With that being said, the only FDA-approved reason for any child to take CBD currently is under a doctor’s care and for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.
The use of CBD, without the guidance of your child’s doctor, can cause serious side effects for your child. Children can easily get confused, hallucinate, become nauseated, begin vomiting, and/or have high blood pressure when given CBD. Research has also shown that young children are at the highest risk of becoming sick when given CBD because it is impossible to know exactly how much of this ingredient is in a product they are ingesting.
We are aware that some parents are administering commercially manufactured CBD to treat some conditions in children, such as anxiety, hyperactivity, and for children on the autism spectrum without instruction from medical providers. It is important to note, however, CBD has not been evaluated extensively enough for its safety or for its effectiveness, especially when administered to children. While there’s promising research about CBD, especially for seizure control, there is still so much that is unknown about the use of CBD with children.
CBD is currently available in a wide range of forms. One popular form is in commercially prepared baked goods and beverages. These products alone can make it difficult to know how much CBD your child is consuming and how it may affect them. Other popular forms of CBD include CBD oil, gummies, and transdermal patches, all of which should be kept out of reach of children.
Even if your child does suffer from Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome or Dravet Syndrome and has been prescribed CBD as a form of his/her treatment, there are still side effects that parents must be aware of that may require a doctor’s immediate attention:
- feeling lethargic and sleepy
- elevated liver enzymes
- diminished appetite
- feeling weakness in the body
- issues with sleep, such as insomnia and poor sleep quality
Serious risks are less likely, but may include:
- suicidal thoughts or actions
- aggressive behavior
- panic attacks
- injury to the liver
The bottom line is that CBD has not been significantly researched for its use in children. Although research is seeing future possibilities in using CBD to treat conditions such as anxiety, hyperactivity, and autism, the products one can purchase online or in a store are not safe and should not be used unless they are prescribed. It is important that you always talk to your child’s pediatrician before starting any new supplements and/or medications.
As a side note: In North Carolina, the use of CBD is conditionally legal. This means that cannabis-derived CBD oil is legal with a medical cannabis license, however, the program is limited to a small subset of the population of study participants and patients suffering from specific conditions
Download Media Release COVID-19 - August 24, 2022 (PDF)