Assessing the Efficacy of Antiepileptic Treatments: The Ketogenic Diet


  • Elizabeth A. Thiele

    1. Pediatric Epilepsy Service, Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. E. A. Thiele at Pediatric Epilepsy Service, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, 55 Fruit Street – VBK 830, Boston, MA 02115, U.S.A. E-mail:


Summary: Purpose: To evaluate the evidence for determining if the ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for epilepsy.

Methods: A literature review of published data over the past 80 years concerning the ketogenic diet was performed, focusing on efficacy, tolerability, age of patient population, as well as study design.

Results: There have been several studies involving prospective and retrospective studies showing the ketogenic diet to be a very efficacious treatment in epilepsy, particularly epilepsy in childhood. However, no Class 1 studies have been published concerning the efficacy of the ketogenic diet.

Conclusions: The ketogenic diet appears to be a very effective treatment for epilepsy, particularly in childhood. It would be beneficial to have Class 1 studies available to help better define the role of the diet both in children and adults.