Aspartame and Seizure Susceptibility: Results of a Clinical Study in Reportedly Sensitive Individuals

Authors

  • A. James Rowan,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Neurology, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx; and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York
      Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. A. J. Rowan at Neurology Service, Bronx VA Medical Center, 130 W. Kingsbridge Rd., Bronx, NY 10468, U.S.A.
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  • Bennett A. Shaywitz,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A.
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  • Linda Tuchman,

    1. Departments of Neurology, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx; and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York
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  • Jacqueline A. French,

    1. Departments of Neurology, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx; and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York
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  • Daniel Luciano,

    1. Departments of Neurology, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx; and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York
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  • Colleen M. Sullivan

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A.
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. A. J. Rowan at Neurology Service, Bronx VA Medical Center, 130 W. Kingsbridge Rd., Bronx, NY 10468, U.S.A.

Abstract

Summary: The high intensity sweetener aspartame has been implicated anecdotally in seizure provocation. This possibility was investigated with a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. After an extensive search, 18 individuals (16 adults and 2 children) who had seizures allegedly related to aspartame consumption were admitted to adult or pediatric epilepsy monitoring units where their EEG was monitored continuously for 5 days. Aspartame (50 mg/kg) or identically enpackaged placebo was administered in divided doses at 800, 1000, and 1200 h on study days 2 and 4. All meals were uniformly standardized on treatment days. No clin-ical seizures or other adverse experiences were observed after aspartame ingestion. Mean plasma phenylalanine (Phe) concentrations increased significantly after aspar-tame ingestion (83.6 pIM) as compared with placebo (52.3 μCM).Results suggest that aspartame, in acute dosage of ε50 mg/kg, is no more likely than placebo to cause seizures in individuals who reported that their seizures were provoked by aspartame consumption.

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