In some cases, a special diet -- also known as a ketogenic diet -- has been shown to help control seizures in children. This diet is rich in fats and low in carbohydrates. It is not easy to maintain, because it requires strict adherence to an unusual and limited range of foods. Potential side effects of this diet for epilepsy include retarded growth resulting from nutritional deficiency and a buildup of uric acid in the blood (which may lead to kidney stones).
Studies have shown that, in some cases, children may experience fewer seizures if they maintain a strict diet rich in fats and low in carbohydrates. This unusual diet, called the ketogenic diet, causes the body to break down fats instead of carbohydrates to survive. This condition is called ketosis.
One study of 150 children whose seizures were poorly controlled by medication found that about one-fourth of the children had a 90 percent or better decrease in seizures with the ketogenic diet, and another half of the group had a 50 percent or better decrease in their seizures. Moreover, some children can discontinue the ketogenic diet after several years and remain seizure-free. The ketogenic diet is not easy to maintain, as it requires strict adherence to an unusual and limited range of foods.
Possible side effects of this diet include:
- Retarded growth due to nutritional deficiency
- A buildup of uric acid in the blood, which can lead to kidney stones.
People who try this diet for epilepsy should seek the guidance of a dietician to ensure that it does not lead to serious nutritional deficiency.