Presently, ACTH and vigabatrin, are two medications that are used for treating the disorder, but have potentially-serious side effects such as hypertension, gastric ulceration, cortical atrophy, and visual field constriction however it is effective in 60-70 percent of cases.
"We decided to review our experience at Johns Hopkins using the ketogenic diet to treat infantile spasms before medications were tried and compare this to our use of ACTH over the same time period," said Dr Eric Kossoff, a pediatric neurologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital and lead author of the study.
"We knew that the ketogenic diet worked well for difficult-to-control infantile spasms, so we thought it would also be effective earlier," he added.
If the diet stopped the spasms, infants were kept on it for usually 6 months.
The findings showed that the diet worked in 8-of-13 infants within approximately one week.
Only 1-of-8 had recurring spasms, and that infant was controlled again with the addition of topiramate drug to the diet.
Side effects were fewer than ACTH in this series and the recurrence rate was also lower with the diet.
The researchers hope that this novel use of the ketogenic diet may be the first step in finding another treatment to control new-onset infantile spasms.
The study is published in Epilepsia.