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Low glycemic & modified Atkins diet reduce kids' seizures

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Prof Sheffali Gulati

 Rohit Shishodia
A diet trial conducted by the Child Neurology Division of Department of Pediatrics Delhi-AIIMS has revealed that intake of modified Atkins and low glycemic index therapy diets, apart from ketogenic diet, can reduce the seizure burden in children suffering from epilepsy.

The importance of this study is that Atkins and low glycemic index therapy diets are less restrictive as compared to ketogenic diet which is only given to admitted patients and requires strict protocol while other two diets can be given to patients at home.

The research conducted among 158 kids at Delhi-AIIMS showed that the seizure burden reduced more than 50% in 67% of children receiving a ketogenic diet, 52% in those receiving a modified Atkins diet and 59% in patients getting low glycemic index therapy diet.

This gives a hope to children whose epilepsy seizures cannot be controlled by medicines. Around 30-35% epileptic children have drug-resistant epilepsy and they need surgery, but surgeries are not available in every hospital in india.

Doctors say that epilepsy that fails to get controlled by two antiseizure drugs is unlikely to respond to the addition of other medications. The affected children are designated to have drug-resistant epilepsy. The principal treatment options for these children include either surgery or starting them on ketogenic diet therapies.

The choice of surgery cannot be exercised in all patients; firstly, because epilepsy surgery is curative in specific diseases, and secondly, because in certain conditions, it may be associated with permanent disabilities. The other option includes initiating ketogenic diet therapies.

There are three main methods of providing these "diets". The first is the classical ketogenic diet, which often requires the patient to get admitted to the hospital, strict adherence to protocol, and weighing the food items.

The other is the modified Atkins diet which is less severe than the ketogenic diet. The third dietary protocol is the low glycemic index therapy diet, which requires only minor diet modifications. They have to be designed on an individual basis and taken only under medical supervision.

“We carried out a first of its kind trial (the DIET trial) which compared these three primary dietary therapies. This research showed that the seizure burden reduced by more than 50% in 67% of children receiving a ketogenic diet, 52% in those receiving a modified Atkins diet, and 59%in patients receiving a low glycemic index therapy diet,” said Prof Sheffali Gulati, Chief, Child Neurology Division, Delhi-AIIMS, and one of the authors of the study.

“Also, the side effects were least with a low glycemic index therapy diet. Thus, this study adds a modified Atkins diet and low glycemic index therapy diet to the armamentarium for the management of drug-resistant epilepsy. As they are less restrictive, compliance is better. The added benefit is that since the study has been conducted in India, it can benefit a large population of drug-resistant epilepsy with local dietary menus,” explained Dr Gulati.


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