UK baby given cannabis drug in world first

A drug derived from cannabis has been given to a UK baby, in a world first trial.
A drug derived from cannabis has been given to a UK baby, in a world first trial.

A British baby has become the first in the world to be given a cannabis-derived medicine as part of a new clinical trial to help infants born with a condition that can lead to brain damage.

Oscar Parodi was born at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital with neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which is a lack of oxygen or blood flow from the placenta to the baby.

Oscar was born by emergency Caesarean on March 11 when he was three days overdue.

He was transferred to intensive neonatal care and given cooling treatment in which his body temperature was reduced to 33.5 degrees using a special jacket, in a bid to protect his brain.

He was also given a single intravenous dose of the cannabis-derived drug, less than 12 hours after he was born.

Professor Paul Clarke, consultant neonatologist at the hospital, said: "There is a lot of excitement on the unit and we are proud to have recruited the very first babies into this study.

"It is hoped that it will be good for preventing seizures and protecting the brains of new-born babies with HIE.

"As with any study of a new medicine, there may be unexpected side effects and unknown risks," said Prof Clarke.

"With this in mind, the trial has been carefully designed to make it as safe as possible and so we are only giving the babies a minuscule dose at the beginning and we monitor them even more closely than usual."

The research team will check at 30 days, six months and 12 months after discharge to check on the baby's development.

Oscar's 17 year old mother Chelsea Parodi said: "I was approached after the birth about taking part in this study and I consulted my mum and my brother who is training to be a paramedic.

"It was hard but I wanted to do everything I could to help my baby boy.

"Oscar is doing fantastically well and I am really grateful to Dr Clarke and the team for what they have done for us."

The study is funded and sponsored by GW Pharmaceuticals and is supported by the National Institute for Health Research.

Australian Associated Press