September 27, 2021

Seizure Frequency, Quality of Life, Behavior, Cognition, and Sleep in Pediatric Patients Enrolled in a Prospective, Open-Label Clinical Study with Cannabidiol

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Objective: To evaluate the effects of oral pharmacological cannabidiol (CBD) on seizures, side effects, quality of life, behavior, mood, and sleep in children with drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) during a phase II, prospective, open-label clinical study.

Methods: During a phase II expanded access program (EAP) study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of using cannabidiol (CBD) for the long-term treatment of children with drug-resistant epilepsy, secondary outcome measures were also performed, including quality of life (QOLCE), behavior (aberrant behavior checklist ABC), and sleep (children’s sleep habit questionnaire, CSHQ). Participants between the ages of 2 and 16 years of age with drug-resistant epilepsy (n = 35) were included in this EAP. Primary outcomes included change in parent-recorded seizure frequency relative to baseline, as well as the safety and tolerability over the course of 24 months of CBD treatment. Secondary outcomes observed in the first 12 months included changes in child behavior, and cognitive function, and sleep quality.

Results: The median change in overall seizure frequency decreased from baseline (n = 33) by -61.3% ([n = 33], Inter Quartile Range (IQR): 43-88%) at month 3, -62.9% at month 6 ([n = 29], IQR: 48-92%), -74.7% at month 12 ([n = 29], IQR: 64-96%), and finally -83.7% ([n = 28], IQR: 68-100%) at the conclusion of 24 months of treatment. Seven (20%) of the 35 patients enrolled withdrew from treatment and observation by month 24: 2 failed inclusion criteria at baseline, 4 due to lack of treatment efficacy, and 1 was lost to follow-up. The 12-month recording of secondary measures revealed a significant improvement in Irritability (-39.4%, [n = 28], ABC), Hyperactivity (-45.4%, [n = 28], ABC), Cognition in Quality of Life (+14.2%, [n = 28], QOLCE), Behavioral function (+14.7%, [n = 28], QOLCE), General Health (+14.7%, [n = 28], QOLCE), Sleep duration (-33.9%, [n = 28], CSHQ), Daytime sleepiness (-23.8%, [n = 28], CSHQ), and nocturnal arousals (-36.2%, [n = 28], CSHQ).

Significance: The results of this phase II open-label study demonstrate that pharmacological CBD significantly reduces seizure frequency, and improves quality of life, behavior deficits, and sleep disruption, in children with drug-resistant epilepsy. The results also suggest that CBD is efficacious in controlled seizures over a 2-year period in childhood drug-resistant epilepsy.

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