Three months of ketogenic diet therapy may be enough to evaluate whether or not epilepsy patients are benefiting from it, according to a new study.
The investigation, which was carried out by researchers from the Affiliated Hospital of Nantong University and Children’s Hospital of Fudan University, in China, aimed to a) evaluate the six-month efficacy of a ketogenic diet in children with drug-resistant epilepsy, and b) analyse the associated factors that affect the efficacy of the diet.
A total of 87 children with epilepsy who followed a ketogenic diet for at least six months were included in the study, and the effectiveness of the diet was assessed based on the continued frequency of seizures, as recorded and reported by parents and caregivers.
Gender, age, seizure type, cause of epilepsy, blood glucose and ketone levels, pre-treatment seizure frequency and cognitive ability (in relation to the length of time on the diet) were among the other variables analyzed during the study, the results of which were published in the medical journal Epilepsy & Behavior.
The three-month efficacy rate of the diet was found to be 51%, a percentage that did not increase further when the course was extended to six months. This suggests that three months may be long enough to determine whether ketogenic diet therapy is appropriate for a patient, a discovery that could potentially improve compliance and prevent resources from being wasted.
Other findings showed a positive correlation between cognitive ability and diet efficacy after three months, while the overall benefits of the diet were more pronounced in those with a single seizure type compared to those affected by multiple seizure types (although specific seizure type didn’t appear to have a bearing).  No correlation was found between the three-month efficacy of the diet and either age, gender, cause of epilepsy, blood glucose or ketone levels, or seizure frequency prior to treatment.
The researchers commented: “An observation time of three months is appropriate for assessing the efficacy of a ketogenic diet in treating children with drug-resistant epilepsy.
The factors that likely influence the efficacy of a ketogenic diet are unclear, but our study suggests that incorporating more patient samples will help determine whether patients with certain syndromes can benefit from a ketogenic diet.”
Posted by Steve Long
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