More families moving to Colorado for pot oil extract to treat children with seizures despite risks

Studies: Only 1 in 3 kids benefit from treatment

DENVER - Commonly hailed as a miracle drug, preliminary studies reveal marijuana extract for treating children with seizures, may be somewhat over-hyped.

New preliminary numbers from studies at Children's Hospital Colorado indicate only about one in three children have shown signs of improvement and decreased seizures after using Cannabidiol or CBD oil.

Despite that, the number of families moving to Colorado to get marijuana extract for children with epilepsy just keeps growing.

It appears, so far, the effectiveness of medical marijuana at controlling seizures in children varies from patient to patient.

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The drug is known commonly as Charlotte's Web; named after a little girl who responded so well to it.

"[Research] is showing that some children are responding to this medication in the short-term," said Dr. Kristen Park, pediatric neurologist and epilepsy specialist at Children's Hospital Colorado.

But Park said while 30 percent of children in their random control trials have shown signs of improvement, the other 70 percent have not, and some even showed a worsening effect from the drug.

"I think the conclusion is -- we have to be very careful," said Park. "To have a good discussion about what the evidence is -- what the risks are."

Park points out while the unique access to the drug in Colorado is good, the expectation that it's a miracle drug may be over-hyped.

"If you come, thinking that it's a miracle cure and your child doesn't respond and you don't have any resources to deal with that, I think that can be difficult."

Park also points out there is no real research yet on how the drug impacts a child's cognitive development long-term.

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Still, the list of families moving to Colorado to get it for their children is growing fast.

"There's still the risk, but there's also hope," said Hillary Rayburn, who moved to Colorado from Oklahoma to get the oil for her epileptic daughter.

Paula Lyles and her daughter came from Ohio.

"My husband got home one night and I said, 'I've got something to tell you. We're moving.' And he's like, 'When?' And I said, 'Now,'" said Lyles.

Another concern among doctors at Children's: In a retrospective study of children who were already using cannabis oil, parents who moved to Colorado from out-of-state were three-times more likely to feel the drug was effective in treating their child -- versus parents from Colorado.

That may be speaking to the danger of something that, thus far, may be over-hyped and under-studied. 

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