Baby Oscar Parodi was born with a condition called neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) which is caused by a lack of oxygen or blood flow from the placenta to the baby. HIE is one of the most serious birth complications affecting full-term infants, with few preventive treatments available. This condition causes babies to have seizures which can potentially lead to brain damage.
Oscar was born at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in an unexpectedly bad condition after being born three days after his due date. He was transferred to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and put into 72 hours of cooling treatment to protect his brain, as is standard for babies born with HIE. His mother also agreed for him to be given 0.1 milligram (a 30th of the normal dose) of the cannabis-based drug. This is the first time a cannabis-derived medicine has been tested intravenously in a human baby and it is hoped that it will help prevent seizures and protect the brains of newborns with HIE.
Previous studies have looked at the effect of cannabinoids on mice and rats who have had the placenta clamped to restrict oxygen before birth, and it showed promising results with the rodents showing normal motor and cognitive performance when they reached adulthood.
Oscar’s mother Chelsea Parodi said, “It was hard but I wanted to do everything I could to help my baby boy. Oscar was in hospital for nine days and he was being monitored 24/7. He is doing fantastically well and I am really grateful to Dr Clarke and the team for what they have done for us.”
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 baby into this study”.
This first phase of the trial will take about a year to complete, with the baby’s development being checked at 30 days, six months and 12 months after discharge. We await the results and will keep you updated on this exciting progression in the world of neonatal medicine.