LANCET NEUROLOGY EMBARGO: 0001H (UK time) Saturday 3 May 2008
A new study confirms that the ketogenic diet can be effective in reducing seizures in children with drug resistant epilepsy. Although the diet has been used since the 1920s and there have been many observational studies, the first randomised controlled trial is published 3rd May.
The authors call for the diet to be more widely available on the NHS.
The study, published in Lancet Neurology online, looked at children whose seizures had not been satisfactorily controlled by at least two anticonvulsant drugs. The group which tried the ketogenic diet had seizures reduced on average by more than a third, and the control group saw seizures rise by more than a third. 28 of the 54 children in the diet group had more than 50% seizure reduction – five saw a seizure reduction of above 90%.
The diet is high in fat, low in carbohydrate and controlled in protein. It requires specific dietetic support and considerable commitment from the family.
Professor Helen Cross UCL Institute of Child Health, and Great Ormond Street Hospital, and Dr Liz Neal, research dietitian, study authors, said:
“The ketogenic diet has not had the same kudos as medication, because it has been claimed there is no evidence base, and is thought to be difficult to adhere to. In fact, this trial shows it is as effective as any new anti-convulsant drug. If this was a new drug we had tried, regulators would be making it freely available.
“In view of this we believe that the diet should be more widely available as a treatment on the NHS, for children with epilepsy, who have failed to respond to anti-convulsant medication. We stress this is a diet which should only be undertaken on medical advice and under medical and dietetic supervision.”
The Trust has families from the trial willing to talk about having a child with drug resistant epilepsy and the benefits to them of the treatment. Professor Cross and Dr Neal are available for interview.
To be read with the Lancet Neurology Press Release
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