Modified Atkins Diet May Decrease Epileptic Seizures

Approximately half of adult epileptic patients had fewer seizures in recent study

THURSDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A recent prospective study of adult patients with epilepsy who failed multiple anticonvulsive treatments showed a decrease in the frequency of seizures in response to following a modified Atkins diet. The study was published in the February issue of Epilepsia.

Eric H. Kossoff, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and colleagues studied the effects of prescribing the modified, ketogenic Atkins diet to 30 patients, ranging in age from 18 to 53 years, who had intractable epilepsy. These patients had failed to respond to between two and 14 different anticonvulsive medications, and had one to 140 seizures per week.

The researchers report that 18 of the patients (60 percent) improved. Approximately half of the patients had fewer seizures over the six-month study term. A secondary effect of the diet was weight loss. The interpretation of the results is limited by the study's small size, possibility of a placebo effect, lack of a control group and reliance on patient-provided dietary records. Also, total cholesterol increased significantly, and 16 subjects discontinued the diet because of its lack of efficacy or because it was too restrictive.

"This preliminary study suggests that in a manner similar to children, the modified Atkins diet may be a helpful new treatment option for adults with intractable epilepsy," Kossoff and colleagues conclude. "Further controlled studies are necessary and warranted," they add.

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