For children with epilepsy who don't find relief from their seizures with medication, a tightly controlled nutrition plan might help, a pair of new studies suggests.
Called the ketogenic diet, the therapy provides a carefully balanced high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that causes the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates for fuel. This changes the way brain cells use energy and helps to reduce seizures, according to the researchers.
The first study compared a ketogenic diet to several other treatment options for epilepsy, including surgery and a procedure called vagal nerve stimulation. It found that about two-thirds of kids successfully controlled their seizures with a ketogenic diet.
The second study looked at whether or not introducing the diet in a slower, less restrictive manner would be effective. For most kids, it was.
"Although medical therapy is our mainstay for treatment, ketogenic dietary therapy can be a very effective option," said Dr. James Wheless, a spokesman for the American Epilepsy Society.