In a limited study of six patients, including three patients 12 years old and younger on the Atkins regimen for at least four months, two children and one young adult were seizure-free and were able to reduce use of anti-convulsant medications. Findings of the study, scheduled for presentation today at the American Epilepsy Society Meeting in Boston, also showed that seizure control could be long-lasting on the diet, with the three patients continuing to be seizure-free for as long as 20 months.
The researchers caution that because of the small number of study subjects, their look at the relationship between the Atkins diet and seizure control should not lead to its routine use in children with epilepsy, nor at this point should the Atkins diet be used to replace the ketogenic diet the rigorous high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet already proven to reduce or eliminate difficult-to-control seizures in some patients.
The common elements in both diets are high fat and low carbohydrate foods that alter the body's glucose chemistry. The ketogenic diet mimics some of the effects of starvation, in which the body first uses up glucose and glycogen before burning stored body fat. In the absence of glucose, the body produces ketones, a chemical byproduct of fat that can inhibit seizures. Children who remain seizure-free for two years on the ketogenic diet often can resume normal eating and often their seizures don't return. The Atkins diet, while slightly less restrictive than the ketogenic diet, also produces ketones.
"We just don't know yet how effective the Atkins diet is in reducing seizures or if it comes close to the benefits of the ketogenic diet, but our report raises new questions about the ideal level of calo
Contact: Jessica Collins
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions