Researchers believe that a high-fat ketogenic diet, consisting of high-fat foods and few carbohydrates, may help reduce, if not completely eliminate, debilitating seizures in most children with infantile spasms, whose seizures persist despite medication.
The Johns Hopkins Children's Center study has been published online April 30 in the journal Epilepsia.
Infantile spasms, also called West syndrome, is a stubborn form of epilepsy that often does not get better with antiseizure drugs. Because poorly controlled infantile spasms may cause brain damage, the Hopkins team's findings suggest the diet should be started at the earliest sign that medications aren't working.
"Stopping or reducing the number of seizures can go a long way toward preserving neurological function, and the ketogenic diet should be our immediate next line of defense in children with persistent infantile spasms who don't improve with medication," says senior investigator Eric Kossoff, M.D., a pediatric neurologist and director of the ketogenic diet program at Hopkins Children's.
The ketogenic diet works by triggering biochemical changes that eliminate seizure-causing short circuits in the brain's signaling system. It has been used successfully in several forms of epilepsy.