- CBD oil therapy for a young boy with severe epilepsy resulted in unexpected symptoms of premature puberty, possibly indicating a case of Cannabis-Induced Central Precocious Puberty (CPP).
- A team of medical experts cautions clinicians about the hormonal consequences of cannabis-based products, particularly for children with brain abnormalities who could be more sensitive to these effects.
- There’s ambiguity over what exactly induced the early puberty due to the complexity of cannabis compounds and the child’s own complex medical history. Some believe it may have been a consequence of the child’s nervous system dysfunction, not the CBD oil.
- A direct cause-effect relationship between cannabis use and early puberty has not been definitively established, though further investigation is warranted given the potential impact.
- It’s recommended that health advisors and physicians using cannabis therapies for pediatric epilepsy conduct regular checks for early signs of puberty, regardless of the child’s age or gender.
Often touted as a therapeutic breakthrough, CBD oil has been praised for its potential to reduce seizures in children with severe epilepsy.
The Case Study
Hospital in Birmingham, England, documented an unusual case associated with CBD oil therapy. A young boy, who suffered around 20 seizures daily since his birth, was introduced to CBD oil therapy. This decision was encouraged by prior findings suggesting the potential benefits of cannabis in reducing pediatric seizures associated with epilepsy.
Cannabidiol or CBD (a compound found in the hemp plant, a relative of the marijuana plant) does not induce a ‘high’ effect. However, a shocking turn of events occurred after a month of CBD oil treatment, the boy began showcasing symptoms of premature puberty.
Symptoms such as development of pubic hair, acne, new body odors, and enlargement of genitals were observed, indicative of a condition known as “central precocious puberty” (CPP) – early puberty onset before the age of 9.
The Implications of the Early Onset of Puberty
This single case was identified as the first potential incident of cannabis-induced CPP. Led by Dr. Aditya Krishnan of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, the medical team involved urged that “Until a more robust evidence base is established, clinicians should be cautious of hormonal consequences of cannabis-related products, especially for children with brain abnormalities who may be more susceptible to these effects.”
However, while a potential link between cannabis and CPP has been suggested, external experts seemed wary of forming conclusions without further investigation due to the nebulous circumstances.
Dr. Alan Rogol, a professor emeritus of endocrinology and pediatrics at the University of Virginia, emphasized the rarity of CPP in boys, and the fact that it’s unclear what exactly was given to the child, as the oil was bought online without a prescription.
Accompanying the debate is the complexity of cannabis compounds. With more than 100 different compounds playing an active role in the oil’s function, some have the potential to be toxic to the central nervous system, causing side effects such as slurred speech, dizziness, confusion, movement difficulties, and headaches. On the other hand, other cannabis compounds have been found to not pose such a risk.
In Rogol’s words, “We do not know what it contained.”
The boy suffered from severe uncontrolled epilepsy linked to a specific genetic mutation, poor eyesight, and hypotonia, a condition with continuous muscle stiffness and tension. With his complex medical history, it remains unclear whether the early onset of puberty could have been an outcome of his nervous system dysfunction.
Dr. Rogol thus concluded that it is not currently possible to establish a direct cause-effect relationship between cannabis use and early puberty based on this single case. However, any significant drug-related disease occurrence remains noteworthy, warranting further investigation.
However, such investigations will be challenging due to the rarity of such cases and the intricacies of epilepsy and CPP, each with a myriad of causes.
In the meantime, health advisors suggest physicians using cannabis therapies for pediatric epilepsy conduct regular checks for early signs of puberty, irrespective of the child’s age or gender.
“That’s relatively simple to do, but so often not done,” Rogol comments.
A comprehensive overview of pediatric epilepsy can be accessed at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital’s site.