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Article
September 1999

Seizures Decrease Rapidly After Fasting: Preliminary Studies of the Ketogenic Diet

Author Affiliations

From the Pediatric Epilepsy Center, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Md.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999;153(9):946-949. doi:10.1001/archpedi.153.9.946
Abstract

Objectives  To evaluate the change in atonic or myoclonic seizures associated with the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome during the initiation of the ketogenic diet, and to describe the development of a blinded crossover study of the efficacy of the ketogenic diet.

Design  A before-after trial.

Setting  The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Md.

Patients  Change in clinical seizure frequency was examined in 17 consecutively treated patients with atonic or myoclonic seizures. In a few patients, a 24-hour ambulatory electroencephalogram was obtained before and after diet initiation. We demonstrated the ability to manipulate the ketosis induced by fasting with the addition of glucose (dextrose) in 1 patient.

Interventions  Children fasted for 36 hours, and the diet was gradually introduced over 3 days. Parents were instructed to keep a baseline seizure frequency calendar for the month before the initiation of the diet. These calendars continued to be maintained as the diet was initiated.

Main Outcome Measure  Seizure decrease from baseline.

Results  The atonic or myoclonic seizures decreased in these children by more than 50% immediately. Using a 24-hour ambulatory electroencephalogram, we documented that the seizures reported by a parent represent only a fraction of the electroclinical events; the technique could be used to measure the profound decrease in electrically documented seizures. Ketosis was eliminated with glucose, 60 g/d.

Conclusions  It is feasible to evaluate the ketogenic diet's efficacy in atonic or myoclonic seizures in a blinded, crossover study. The diet can be manipulated on a short-term basis in a blinded manner, and ketosis can be achieved or eliminated.

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