Sunday, May 4, 2008

High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet Cuts Seizure Frequency in Epileptic Kids

By Anna Boyd
10:40, May 3rd 2008

According to a study carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, a special high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet (also known as ketogenic diet) appears to cut seizure frequency in children with severe, drug-resistant epilepsy.

The ketogenic diet mimics the biochemical response to starvation, when compounds called ketone bodies (rather than sugar) provide the main source of energy for the brain. Ketone bodies are byproducts produced when fatty acids are broken down for energy in the liver and kidneys. They are used as energy sources in the heart and brain. Ketone bodies are a crucial source of energy when a person fasts.

For the study, Dr. J. Helen Cross of Great Ormond Street Hospital and her colleagues enrolled 145 children, ages 2 to 16, who were having at least seven seizures per week and who were not responding to anti-epileptic drugs. They were randomly assigned to receive the ketogenic diet or a normal diet for three months, after which those on the normal diet were switched to the treatment diet.

After several kids quit the study for various reasons, there remained 54 children in the diet group and 49 in the control group. At the end of the follow-up period, 28 of the 54 children in the diet group had a greater than 50 percent reduction in seizures, compared to 4 of 49 children in the control group. Also, 5 children in the diet group had more than 90 percent fewer seizures. None of the children in the control group experienced that kind of improvement.

Although the ketogenic diet had side-effects such as constipation, vomiting, lack of energy and hunger, the researchers suggested that it should be considered as a treatment, but they also cautioned that it should not be undertaken without “medical and dietetic supervision.”

"We have shown that the diet has efficacy and should be included in the management of children who have drug-resistant epilepsy. However, the diet is not without possible side effects, which should be considered alongside the risk-benefit of other treatments when planning the management of such children," the study authors concluded.

About one in 200 children is affected by epilepsy, which can often be controlled with regular drugs. The findings were more than welcomed by Epilepsy Action, a group dealing with this terrible illness.

“The results of this trial add valuable information to what is already known about the diet, presenting evidence that it works for some children with drug-resistant epilepsy. In addition to this, however, we also recognize that the ketogenic diet is not without its side-effects, and that the risks and benefits should be considered before prescribing, as with drug treatment,” a representative of the group said, according to BBC News.

Source : eFluxMedia

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