Efficacy of the Ketogenic Diet for Intractable Seizure Disorders: Review of 58 Cases

Authors

  • Stephen L. Kinsman,

    Corresponding author
    1. The Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
    2. The Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • Eileen P. G. Vining,

    1. Pediatric Epilepsy Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
    2. The Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
    3. The Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • Shirley A. Quaskey,

    1. The Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • David Mellits,

    1. The Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
    2. The Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • John M. Freeman

    1. Pediatric Epilepsy Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
    2. The Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
    3. The Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • This work was presented in part at the American Epilepsy Society Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, December 1987, and published in abstract form in Epilepsia 1987;27:626.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. S. L. Kinsman at The Kennedy Krieger Institute, 707 N. Broadway, Room 504, Baltimore, MD 21205, U.S.A.

Abstract

Summary: The ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920s as a treatment for intractable childhood seizures when few antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) were available. There are still children whose seizures are refractory even to modern therapy, but use of the ketogenic diet appears to be waning. At Johns Hopkins, we continue to believe that the diet is very effective and well accepted by patients and families. To reevaluate our opinion of the efficacy and acceptability of this form of therapy in patients cared for in the 1980s with the newer AEDs, we analyzed the records of 58 consecutive patients who had been started on the diet. Before using the diet, 80% of the patients had multiple seizure types and 88% were treated with multiple AEDs; these children were among our most intractable patients. Despite this, seizure control improved in 67% of patients with the ketogenic diet, and actuarial analysis indicated that 75% of these improved patients continued the diet for at least 18 months. Sixty-four percent had AEDs reduced, 36% became more alert, and 23% had improved behavior. The improvement in these patients with intractable seizures and the length of time that families maintained the regimen indicate that the ketogenic diet continues to have a very useful therapeutic role in selected patients and their families.

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