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Limited Evidence of Benefit for Medical Cannabinoids in Children

Last Updated: October 23, 2017.

The strongest evidence for benefit of cannabinoids in children is for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, with more research needed to assess its role as a medical treatment, according to a review published online Oct. 23 in Pediatrics.

MONDAY, Oct. 23, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- The strongest evidence for benefit of cannabinoids in children is for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, with more research needed to assess its role as a medical treatment, according to a review published online Oct. 23 in Pediatrics.

Shane Shucheng Wong, M.D., and Timothy E. Wilens, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, conducted a systematic review to examine the evidence base of cannabinoids as a medical treatment in children and adolescents. Twenty-one articles that met inclusion criteria were identified; these articles described 22 studies with 795 participants.

The researchers found that the strongest evidence of benefit was seen for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, with increasing evidence of benefit seen for epilepsy. The evidence was insufficient to support cannabinoid use for spasticity, neuropathic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Tourette syndrome. There was variation in the methodological quality of studies, with most lacking control groups, limited by small size, and not designed to test for the statistical significance of outcomes. The cannabinoid composition and dosage were heterogeneous among studies, and long-term follow-up was lacking.

"Additional research is needed to evaluate the potential role of medical cannabinoids in children and adolescents, especially given increasing accessibility from state legalization and potential psychiatric and neurocognitive adverse effects identified from studies of recreational cannabis use," the authors write.

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