Does cannabidiol reduce severe behavioural problems in children with intellectual disability? Study protocol for a pilot single-site phase I/II randomised placebo controlled trial.
Severe behavioural problems (SBPs) are a common contributor to morbidity and reduced quality of life in children with intellectual disability (ID). Current medication treatment for SBP is associated with a high risk of side effects. Innovative and safe interventions are urgently needed. Anecdotal reports and preliminary research suggest that medicinal cannabis may be effective in managing SBP in children with developmental disabilities. In particular, cannabidiol (CBD) may be a plausible and safe alternative to current medications. Families who are in urgent need of solutions are seeking cannabis for their ID children with SBP. However there is no evidence from randomised controlled trials to support the use of CBD for SBP. This pilot study aims to investigate the feasibility of conducting a randomised placebo-controlled trial of CBD to improve SBP in children with ID.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS:
This is a single-site, double-blind, parallel-group, randomised, placebo-controlled pilot study of 10 participants comparing 98% CBD oil with placebo in reducing SBP in children aged 8-16 years with ID. Eligible participants will be randomised 1:1 to receive either CBD 20 mg/kg/day or placebo for 8 weeks. Data will be collected regarding the feasibility and acceptability of all study components, including recruitment, drop-out rate, study visit attendance, protocol adherence and the time burden of parent questionnaires. Safety outcomes and adverse events will be recorded. All data will be reported using descriptive statistics. These data will inform the design of a full scale randomised controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of CBD in this patient group.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION:
This protocol has received ethics approval from the Royal Children’s Hospital ethics committee (Human Research Ethics Committee no. 38236). Results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals, professional networks, conferences and social media.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.
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