How the Ketogenic Diet May Help Kids With Epilepsy

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For some kids, medicine to control seizures arising from childhood epilepsy may not work well, or at all.

In cases like this, a ketogenic diet rich in fats and protein can help prevent and diminish seizures.

A Non-Invasive Epilepsy Treatment

The term “ketogenic” refers to the ketones produced in your body, and are formed when the body uses fat for its source of energy. The body normally uses carbohydrates such as sugar, bread or pasta for its calories, but because the ketogenic diet sets a very low intake of carbohydrates, fats become the primary fuel instead.

Your child’s doctor will typically recommend the ketogenic diet if your child hasn’t responded to epilepsy treatment with multiple seizure medications. Though the diet can be hard to follow, particularly for older children, it’s often recommended since it isn’t invasive and doesn’t require special medication.

Though the exact way the diet works to control seizures isn’t known for sure, the beneficial effects are triggered by the elevated levels of ketones in the blood stream.

Reduction in Seizure Activity

There have been several studies that have shown the ketogenic diet reduces or prevent seizures in many children whose seizures aren’t able to be controlled by medications. According to the studies, more than half the children who go on the diet have at least a 50 percent reduction in seizures. 10 to 15 percent of children a remain seizure-free while on the diet.

Though a child can feel lethargic or experience flu-like symptoms for the first week or two of the diet as their body adjusts to the reduced carbohydrate intake, once the body has adjusted there are no other side effects. It’s important for child on a ketogenic diet to drink plenty of water, and your child’s doctor may recommend a daily vitamin.