News, Treatment

A Newborn is one of the Youngest to Benefit from Cannabis Therapy

June 22, 2020 10:17 am ET
A Newborn is one of the Youngest to Benefit from Cannabis Therapy

Oscar Parodi was already up against a struggle when he came into the world on March 11th earlier this year. Born with neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a condition characterized by a lack of oxygen or blood flow from the placenta, Oscar was at risk for seizures that might have led to brain injury. His mother, Chelsea Parodi, was determined to do whatever it took to protect her newborn son and ensure his well being. So when she was approached with an unusual therapy to help with his treatment, she agreed. This is the story of how Oscar Parodi became one of the first newborns to undergo a cannabis-based treatment.

Cannabis as a Treatment for Seizures

In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, a cannabis-based substance, as a treatment for seizures in children two years and older. This approval came after significant research into the effects of cannabis on seizure disorders. Not only was it found to be effective in many cases, but it was also even shown to be effective against some conditions that had not responded to traditional therapies.

Now that cannabis is becoming more widely legalized in the United States, researchers will be presented with more opportunities than they have ever had in the past to conduct studies on the effectiveness of cannabis against not only seizures but various other medical issues as well. We expect to see many other cannabis-based medicinal products approved by the FDA in the not too distant future.

Treatment for a Newborn

Because Oscar Parodi was the first-ever newborn to undergo a cannabis-based treatment, his doctors took extra precautions to ensure that everything would go well. The priority was ensuring the health and safety of the baby.

Immediately following his birth, he was transferred to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and put into a cooling treatment that lasted 72 hours. His body temperature was reduced substantially in hopes of protecting his brain.

Once his body temperature had been lowered, he was given a single dose of the cannabis drug. As with most cannabis-based treatments for epilepsy, Parodi’s treatment was CBD based and involved minimal amounts of THC, the compound in cannabis plants that produces a “high.”

What This Means Going Forward

Unfortunately, it is too soon to say for certain what effect this will have on the future of CBD treatments for infants. However, signs are promising. Parodi’s treatment was a big step forward for the field of medicinal cannabis.

Even better is the news for Chelsea Parodi and for her family. After nine days in the hospital, Oscar was healthy enough to come home.

The doctors spent nine days monitoring the newborn’s condition closely. They kept watch on the electrical signals in his brain, paying close attention to any signs of an impending seizure. They also conducted frequent physical exams, neurological exams, and blood tests.

The treatment Oscar was given is part of a larger study that is just getting its feet off the ground. As more babies are enrolled, scientists and physicians will be able to give us a better idea of the potential of this drug.

In Oscar’s case, the cannabis treatment was helpful. His condition was stabilized and he was able to leave the NICU. We have yet to learn how many other conditions it will be able to help, and therefore how many babies—and how many families who love them—will be able to be affected by it. However, the future’s looking bright—both for Oscar Parodi and for any number of future newborns who may benefit from the treatments being developed.

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