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Efficacy of dietary treatments for epilepsy


Elizabeth G. Neal, Neurosciences Unit, Institute of Child Health, London, UK.
Tel.: +44 (0) 20 79052981
Fax: +44 (0) 20 72783777


The ketogenic diet (KD) is a high fat, restricted carbohydrate regime that has been used as a treatment for seizures since the 1920s, when it was designed to induce a similar metabolic response to fasting. A modification of this early classical version of the KD was introduced in the 1970s using medium chain triglycerides as an alternative fat source. More recently, two alternative, less-restrictive dietary treatments have been developed: the modified Atkins diet and the low glycaemic index diet. There are many case reports and observational studies reporting successful use of the KD, and a growing number of studies reporting similar success with the modified Atkins protocol. A recent randomised controlled trial has shown a significant benefit of the KD compared to no change in treatment. The use of these dietary therapies in the UK is supported by literature evidence, although often is limited by a lack of resources; increasing awareness and knowledge is fundamental to ensure availability for those individuals with intractable epilepsy who may benefit from them.

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