Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High-fat ketogenic diet to control seizures is safe over long term, study suggests

Date:
February 17, 2010
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
Current and former patients treated with the high-fat ketogenic diet to control multiple, daily and severe seizures can be reassured by the news that not only is the diet effective, but it also appears to have no long-lasting side effects, say scientists.

Current and former patients treated with the high-fat ketogenic diet to control multiple, daily and severe seizures can be reassured by the news that not only is the diet effective, but it also appears to have no long-lasting side effects, say scientists at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Related Articles


A study report supporting their conclusion, and believed to be one of the first analyses of the long-term safety and efficacy of the diet, appears online in the February edition of the journal Epilepsia.

The ketogenic diet, consisting of high-fat foods and very few carbohydrates, is believed to trigger biochemical changes that eliminate seizure-causing short circuits in the brain's signaling system. Used as first-line therapy for infantile spasms and in children whose seizures cannot be controlled with drugs, the diet is highly effective but complicated and sometimes difficult to maintain. It can temporarily raise cholesterol, impair growth and, in rare cases, lead to kidney stones, among other side effects.

"Despite its temporary side effects, we have always suspected that the ketogenic diet is relatively safe long term, and we now have proof," says senior investigator Eric Kossoff, M.D., a pediatric neurologist and director of the ketogenic diet program at Hopkins Children's. "Our study should help put to rest some of the nagging doubts about the long-term safety of the ketogenic diet," he adds.

The evidence is based on a study of 101 patients ages 2 to 26 years treated with the ketogenic diet for a minimum of 16 months and for up to eight years at Hopkins Children's between 1993 and 2008. At the time of the follow-up, patients were off the diet anywhere between eight months and 14 years. Nearly 80 percent of the patients remained either seizure-free or had their seizures reduced by half. Most patients' seizures did not worsen even years after stopping the diet.

Researchers caution it is possible that some effects may not show up for decades. However, the evidence, especially among patients who were off the diet for more than 10 years, suggests no long-term harm.

During interviews, none of the patients reported adverse cardiovascular side effects such as heart attacks, enlargement of the heart or abnormal plaque buildup in their arteries. One patient reported having high blood pressure.

Only two of the 101 patients reported kidney stones after stopping the diet, the same rate found in the general population not treated with the ketogenic diet, the researchers say.

None of the 25 patients who had liver and kidney function tests had abnormal results. Among the 26 patients who had their cholesterol tested, the average level was 157 milligrams per deciliter of blood (less than 200 is considered normal), with three of the 26 having abnormal levels. Most patients' cholesterol levels go up while on the diet, but are believed to return to normal thereafter. The Hopkins study now confirms that this is the case.

Most patients older than 18 at the time of the study had normal body mass index of 22 on average (25 and below is considered normal). And most of them were within a few inches of their expected heights, based on their parents' heights. Patients 18 years and younger at the time of the study were, on average, in the 25th percentile for height and in the 36th percentile for weight for their age. While this is below average, the investigators say, it is also much higher than the usual 5th-to-10th percentile while on the diet.

"We have every reason to believe that most children will start catching up once they are off the diet as they grow up because this is what we see in older former patients," Kossoff says.

Contrary to the fear of many parents, the diet does not appear to alter patients' food preferences, the researchers say. Only 8 percent of those in the study said they continued to eat predominantly high-fat foods.

The research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the Carson Harris Foundation.

Co-investigators include Amisha Patel, Paula Pyzik, Zahava Turner and James Rubenstein.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "High-fat ketogenic diet to control seizures is safe over long term, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100216163531.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2010, February 17). High-fat ketogenic diet to control seizures is safe over long term, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100216163531.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "High-fat ketogenic diet to control seizures is safe over long term, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100216163531.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins