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Modified Atkins diet can cut epileptic seizures in adults
Date:1/28/2008

A modified version of a popular high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet can significantly cut the number of seizures in adults with epilepsy, a study led by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests. The Atkins-like diet, which has shown promise for seizure control in children, may offer a new lifeline for patients when drugs and other treatments fail or cause complications.

For almost a century, doctors have prescribed an eating plan called the ketogenic diet to treat children with epilepsy. This diet often consists of a short period of fasting, strictly limits fluids and drastically restricts carbohydrates. It appears to limit or even eliminate seizures, possibly by generating the build-up of ketones, compounds the body produces when it derives calories mostly from fat. Some of the largest studies to scientifically test this diets efficacy took place at Johns Hopkins in the mid-1990s, led by pediatric neurologists John Freeman, M.D., and Eileen Vining, M.D.

Why exactly the ketogenic diet works remains unknown, and it is notoriously difficult to follow, relying almost solely on fat and protein for calories. Consequently, doctors typically recommend it only for children, whose parents can strictly monitor their eating habits. The ketogenic diet is almost never prescribed to adults, who generally make their own food choices and often have difficulty complying with the diets strict guidelines.

In 2002, Johns Hopkins researchers began testing a modified version of the Atkins diet in children with epilepsy. The modified diet shares the high-fat focus of the ketogenic diet, prompting the body to generate ketones. However, it allows more carbohydrates and protein, doesnt limit fluids and calories, and has no fasting period. When studies showed that the new diet prevented or curtailed seizures in children, the researchers began testing it for efficacy and ease of use in adults.

Reporting on the results in the February issue of Epilep
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Contact: Christen Brownlee
cbrownlee@jhmi.edu
410-955-7832
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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