This trial provides class I evidence that the ketogenic diet is an effective therapy in children and adolescents with refractory epilepsy compared with usual care
NETHERLANDS – A new research study conducted at the Maastricht University has revealed the use of ketogenic diet to treat children and adolescents with refractory (drug-resistant) epilepsy.
The study aimed at assessing the effectiveness and tolerability of the high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, for a four-month period of a controlled trial in children and teenagers with refractory epilepsy aged 1-18 years.
Subsequent to the first month’s baseline assessment, enrolled subjects were given the ketogenic diet or ‘usual care’ in a random manner. The ‘usual care’ refers to the patient continuing their anti-epileptic drugs as prescribed by their respective doctors.
Both groups were monitored by the research team to see which group had less ratio of at least a 50% decrease in seizure frequency during the four months. The results are published in the Acta Neurologica Scandinavica journal.
Half of the 26 individuals in the ketogenic diet group who completed the study to have responded to the treatment in the four-month period. They had at least a 50% reduction in seizure frequency compared to baseline. While in the ‘usual care’ group, only four out of 22 responders had similar outcome.
Furthermore, approximately twice as many children in the ketogenic diet group than in the ‘usual care’ group were revealed to have a significant reduction in severity scores. However, the gastrointestinal symptoms were also more common in these children as noted by the researchers.
The research concludes: “This trial provides class I evidence that the ketogenic diet is an effective therapy in children and adolescents with refractory epilepsy compared with usual care. Most often reported side effects are gastrointestinal symptoms.”