A new study has demonstrated the benefits of the ketogenic diet in the treatment of children and adolescents with refractory (drug-resistant) epilepsy.Led by Maastricht University, the research aimed to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of the high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, during the first four months of a controlled trial in children with refractory epilepsy aged 1-18 years.After one month’s baseline assessment, enrolled subjects were randomised to receive either the ketogenic diet or ‘usual care’, which is defined as a patient continuing to take their anti-epileptic drugs as prescribed. The research team monitored both groups to see what proportion of each had at least a 50% reduction in seizure frequency at four months. The results are published in the Acta Neurologica Scandinavica journal.In total 26 individuals in the ketogenic diet group completed the study, and of these 13 (50%)  were shown to have responded to the treatment at four months (i.e. these people demonstrated at least a 50% reduction in seizure frequency compared to baseline). In the usual care group, however, there were just 4/22 responders (or 18.2%) at four months.The team also found that the average seizure frequency at four months was significantly lower in the ketogenic diet group compared to baseline than in the usual care group (compared to baseline). Almost twice as many children in the ketogenic diet group than in the usual care group were shown to experience a relevant decrease in severity scores (although the researchers do note that gastrointestinal symptoms were also more common in these children).The research concludes: “This trial provides class I evidence that the ketogenic diet is an effective therapy in children and adolescents with refractory epilepsy compared with usual care. Most often reported side effects are gastrointestinal symptoms.”Click here for more articles about other treatments for epilepsy.Click here for more articles about epilepsy in children.