Norfolk baby given cannabis treatment in world first
A Norfolk baby is the world's first to be given a cannabis-derived medicine to prevent seizures in infants with a condition that can lead to brain damage.
Within hours of his birth, Oscar Parodi became a medical trailblazer.
After an emergency caesarean and urgent cooling therapy in the NICU, Oscar became the first baby in the world to join a cannabis-derived medicine treatment trial.
He was born 3 days overdue on March 11th with Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), which is a lack of oxygen or blood flow from the placenta to the baby.
The medicinal cannabis extract is already being used to help treat children with rare forms of epilepsy, and this is the first time it has been used to try to prevent seizures in a baby with HIE.
Researchers say this world-first at NNUH is the first step that could one day lead to a cannabis-derived medicine being used routinely in neonatal care to help babies at risk of seizures and brain injury. This study is looking to specifically see if the medicine is safe and effective in lessening the degree of brain injury for babies with HIE.
Professor Paul Clarke, Consultant Neonatologist at NNUH, said
“There is a lot of excitement on the unit and we are proud to have recruited the very first babies into this study. This is the first time a cannabis-derived medicine has been tested intravenously in human babies. It is hoped that it will be good for preventing seizures and protecting the brains of new-born babies with HIE.
“One of the attractions of this trial for parents is the closer brain monitoring that babies get as part of the study, because a more advanced brain wave monitor is used for the trial babies. This gives parents more reassurance that any seizures will be picked up.”
Babies who take part in the trial continue to receive standard hypothermia treatment for HIE where the whole body is cooled down to 33.5 degrees. They receive a single dose of the study drug or a placebo (dummy medicine) followed by some tests to measure levels of the drug in the blood.
His mum Chelsea Parodi, of Watton, Norfolk, 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 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.”
Oscar is now 15 weeks old, and we wish him and his family all the luck in the world!