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Modified Atkins diet helps children with rare form of epilepsy

Wiley

Doose syndrome or myoclonic-astatic epilepsy is a rare syndrome accounting for one to two percent of childhood epilepsies. A ketogenic diet, which is low in carbohydrates and high in fat, is an effective treatment, but it is very restrictive and difficult to follow.

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It has long been known that a strict 'ketogenic' diet - which absolutely minimise carbohydrates, and is therefore extremely high in fat - can help some individuals with otherwise uncontrollable epilepsy to manage this condition, by reducing - sometimes quite dramatically - the frequency and severity of their seizures.

This kind of diet may also have benefits for some other mental health conditions, notably bipolar or other mood disorders, although more research is still needed to establish this, and if so, to find out which individuals or subgroups may benefit. 

The problem is that standard ketogenic diets - as precribed by most doctors and specialist dietitians - are extremely restrictive, often unappetising, and very difficult for patients to follow, not least because of the many possible undesirable side-effects.

This study reports that in children with a rare and severe form of epilepsy, a modified ketogenic diet - modelled on a version of the 'Atkins' diet - was successful in reducing seizures, and in some cases preventing these altogether.

As the researchers emphasised, this is good news - as the modified diet was easier to implement in practice, less restrictive, and more acceptable to the children than the classical ketogenic diet, but appeared to be just as effective.


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Doose syndrome or myoclonic-astatic epilepsy is a rare syndrome accounting for one to two percent of childhood epilepsies.

A ketogenic diet, which is low in carbohydrates and high in fat, is an effective treatment, but it is very restrictive and difficult to follow.

In a recent study, 25 of 30 children (83 percent) with Doose syndrome who followed a modified Atkins Diet experienced a seizure reduction of at least 50 percent and 14 of 30 children (47 percent) were seizure-free.

"Toddlers are always very choosy for their food, so the modified Atkins Diet is a good choice for families with a child suffering from a Doose syndrome, as shown by our study: less restrictive than the classical ketogenic diet, easier to calculate, to cook, and having an optimal responder rate regarding seizure reduction as well," said Dr. Adelheid Wiemer-Kruel, lead author of the Epilepsia study.



23 February 2013 - MedicalXpress