High-fat diet cuts epileptic seizures in children

March 18, 2003 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

High-fat diet cuts epileptic seizures in children

A high-fat, low carbohydrate diet can drastically cut seizures in children with severe epilepsy and could reduce the need for medication if it was used more widely, say British doctors. After three months on the diet, researchers at in London said there was a 50 percent reduction in seizures in half the 14 children following the diet and a 75 percent drop in four youngsters.

The diet alters the body's metabolism by replacing glucose with fats as a major energy source. When the fat is broken down it produces ketone bodies that help to reduce seizures. Most of the parents of the children in the study reported an improvement in the awareness and responsiveness of the youngsters.

The researchers plan to recruit 120 children for the study, which will be the biggest of its kind in Britain, and will compare two different ways of giving the diet to determine if one if better than the other. Half of the children will be given the classic ketogenic diet, in which the fat comes from cream, butter and oil. The remainder will have a slightly altered version that includes some fat from foods and some from a supplement.

The researchers said the effect of the diet varies among children, but it appears to work in a significant proportion of kids.

Epilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system caused by excessive local stimulation in the brain that leads to recurrent seizures.

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