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Special Diet Can Ease Epileptic Seizures in Kids
Date:5/3/2008

Strong support for ketogenic regimen from major randomized trial

FRIDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- The "ketogenic" diet, which features high levels of fat, low levels of carbohydrates and controlled protein intake, helps control and prevent seizures in children with drug-resistant epilepsy, a new study finds.

The trial is the first randomized controlled study to confirm that the ketogenic diet -- widely used since the 1920s -- is effective against epilepsy, the British researchers said.

Experts believe that the regimen's high fat and restricted carbohydrate content 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. In the brain, ketone bodies are a crucial source of energy when a person fasts.

This University College London study included 145 children, aged 2 to 16, who suffered seizures at least once a day or more than seven seizures per week. These patients hadn't responded to treatment with at least two epileptic drugs, and hadn't previously been placed on the ketogenic diet.

Baseline information about the children's seizures was first recorded. Seventy-three of the children started the ketogenic diet immediately, while the other 72 started it after a three-month delay. The delay group acted as a control group during the study. Complete data was obtained from 54 children in the diet group and 49 children in the control group.

The overall number of seizures in the diet group declined by more than 38 percent, while seizures in the control group increased by 36.9 percent, the researchers report. The study found that 28 of the 54 children who completed three months in the diet group had a greater than 50 percent reduction in
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