Epilepsy is the most serious of all neurological disorders
Epilepsy affects 65 million people worldwide and is diagnosed simply by the occurrence of two or more unprovoked seizures. Seizures result when nerve cells signal incorrectly which may present as strange sensations, emotions, behavior, or convulsions, or a loss of consciousness. There are many causes for epilepsy including illness, brain injury, abnormal brain development and genetic conditions. Epilepsy is more common in young children and in the elderly.
Thirty percent of people who have epilepsy do not respond to anti-seizure medications. According to a 2010 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, people who developed childhood epilepsy had a substantially higher death rate if their seizures were not controlled over a five year period (nejm.org).
In 2006, The Charlie Foundation commissioned a panel comprised of neurologists and dietitians with particular expertise in using the ketogenic diet to create a consensus statement in support of the clinical management of the ketogenic diet and when it should be considered. Children are especially good candidates for the diet owing to their reliance on adults for nourishment and to the nature of a young developing brain.
Only a small fraction of people with epilepsy are offered ketogenic diet therapies. The diet offers improvement to the majority of people with epilepsy who trial it.
Certain epilepsy types may respond better to diet therapies
Epilepsy syndromes are specific syndromes that are associated with one or more seizure types. The ketogenic diet and the associated modified diets are well established in the treatment of epilepsy and in the following syndromes and conditions.
- Glucose transporter type 1 deficiency syndrome
- Pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency
- Myoclonic epilepsies:
- Myoclonic-astatic epilepsy (Doose syndrome)
- Severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (Dravet syndrome)
- Tuberous sclerosis complex
- Rett syndrome
- Infantile spasm
- Certain mitochondrial disorders:
- Phosphofructokinase deficiency
- Glycogenosis type V
- Mitochondrial respiratory chain complex disorders
- Landau-Kleffner syndrome
- Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis