When it comes to health and well-being, women and children are considered to be some of the most vulnerable in society. Pregnant, hands-on, and especially single working mothers are undoubtedly subjected to increased stress1 and are more likely to try various ways of coping. Unfortunately, children, especially hyperactive ones are also a significant source of stress for parents2 and most would likely jump on a solution that would allow them to calm their kids down. Because of this, there is a growing interest in CBD for Pregnancy and Children.
CBD presents a very promising solution for dealing with these kinds of stresses. In fact, one survey says that 55% of Americans use CBD to relax while 50% use it for anxiety and relief3 even in the face of scarcity in clinical studies. For many parents, CBD may finally be the magic pill that they’ve been waiting for: it is all-natural, everyone claims that it is effective and there are no reports of it being unsafe. The fact that even celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, who actually threw a CBD-themed baby shower for her 4th child, believe in it is probably one the biggest endorsements that would entice mothers all over the nation to try CBD for themselves.
While the benefits of CBD are already well-known, its effects on pregnant women and children are largely unstudied. However, taking into consideration the studies that do exist will help consumers evaluate the degree of risk involved should they decide to use CBD on their child or while pregnant.
CBD Use in Pregnancy
Some of the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy are nausea, pain, and anxiety, which CBD is well-known to relieve. At least one study4 has shown that this is due to CBD’s ability to bind with a number of cannabinoid receptors, including transient receptor potential villanoid type-1 and serotonin (5-HT1A). The study, published on the American Society of Anesthesiologists website, examined the attitudes of reproduction-aged women from 18 to 44 years old including midwives, doulas, and anesthesiologists towards CBD.
Those who believe that topical CBD use is safe during pregnancy:
- 29% of women
- 20% of anesthesiologists and midwives
- 70% of doulas
Those who will consider CBD for nausea, anxiety, and pain during pregnancy and labor:
- 20-30% of women
- 7-13% of anesthesiologists
- 33-44% of midwives
- 44-54% of doulas
The survey shows that there is a significant number of women willing to use CBD during pregnancy. However, the FDA had already warned against the use of cannabinoids, including CBD, during pregnancy and breastfeeding mothers for the following reasons:
- It has been shown in animal models that high doses of CBD can cause problems with the reproductive system of developing male fetuses.
- We mentioned in The Importance of 3rd Party Testing of CBD Products that CBD is an unregulated product so its possible that inferior products from questionable sources may contain pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus that may be passed on to the fetus or breastfed baby.
- The FDA says that CBD can cause liver toxicity and may interact with certain drugs.
However, the FDA also acknowledges that it is still investigating the numerous unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD.
CBD Use for Children
Giving CBD to kids is understandably controversial since it is still a cannabinoid and some products do include small amounts of THC. However, there are a number of reasons why some parents choose to give CBD to their kids:
- It can keep kids calm, focused, and sleepy at certain doses5 when needed.
- CBD is confirmed to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, which helps ease pain and seizures.6
- Adults who have experienced the benefits of CBD first-hand would likely be confident to try it on their children
- It can help children with hard-to-treat conditions such as some types of epilepsy, seizures, and even autism.7
- While there are no clinical human trials regarding CBD use for migraines, it can be related to treating pain as it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
- Even though there’s no correlated study between CBD and ADHD, it can help with anxiety attacks, so some parents are hopeful it can also treat ADHD.
- Children who take Epidiolex, a CBD-containing drug used to manage seizure disorders, have seen a massive improvement in reducing their seizure occurrence.8
- A study on a group of children 4-10 years old with Dravet Syndrome, a type of epilepsy, suggesting that CBD use reduces seizures.9
Receptions About CBD Use
One of the reasons why CBD has grown in popularity is due to anecdotal evidence which should also be taken into account. There are a growing number of positive accounts from people who have tried CBD in pregnancy and for children which is why some parents and pregnant women take the risk of using CBD. Here are some of the more frequently cited reasons:
- Some have used CBD oil to increase appetite, treat nausea, pain, and anxiety. They have used it during pregnancy to help ease the pain and claimed it to be effective, with no adverse effects to the mother and to the child after birth. They also felt safe using it for muscle pains.
- Some have found CBD to be effective in easing their morning sickness.
- More and more parents are looking into using CBD oil as a natural remedy for children with ADHD.
- Others are also looking at giving CBD oil to their children to help them calm down or fall asleep easier.
There are still a lot of unknowns with regard to the use of CBD in pregnancy and for children. While the government and authorities are inclined to go against the risks based on established research, it is still the prerogative of an expecting mother and parents if they will accept the risk of using CBD products for themselves or their children based on many factors such as the number of researches done, the safety of use, processing, availability, and legality.
- Parenting: Being supermom stressing you out?[American Psychological Association]
- Hernández-Otero I1, Doddamani L, Dutray B, Gagliano A, Haertling F, Bloomfield R, Ramnath G. Stress levels experienced by parents of children with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder during the back-to-school period: results of a European and Canadian survey.[PubMed]
- Dan Kopf. The reasons US adults say they have tried CBD[The Atlas]
- Selzer, S., Morrison, G., Bensadigh, B.M., et al. (2019 Oct 19). Cannabidiol in Pregnancy: Attitudes of Obstetric-related Healthcare Providers and Women 18-44 years-old in California.[American Society of Anesthesiologists]
- CBD: What Parents Need to Know.[Child Mind Institute]
- Campbell C.T., Phillips, M.S., Manasco, K. (2017 May-Jun). Cannabinoids in Pediatrics[PMC]
- riched Cannabis sativa Extract on Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms: An Observational Study of 18 Participants Undergoing Compassionate Use[PMC]
- Can CBD Help Your Child?[Consumer Reports]
- Wong, M.H., Devinsky, O., Thiele, E.A., et al. (2016 Dec). A Dose Ranging Safety and Pharmacokinetic Study of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Children With Dravet Syndrome (GWPCARE1).[New Cannabis Ventures]