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Ketogenic diet "may be started" as outpatient treatment

20 October, 2004

Results from a
new study that analysed medical records of epilepsy patients suggest
that the Ketogenic Diet, the high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet shown
to reduce or eliminate difficult-to-control seizures in children with
epilepsy, can be successfully implemented with children on an
outpatient basis.

The study, by the Mayo Clinic and appearing in the journal Paediatric Neurology,
compared inpatient (treating and staying in the hospital) and
outpatient (treating and then returning home) treatments using a
Ketogenic Diet. The researchers said the benefits of outpatient
treatment include improved acceptability and ability to maintain and
comply with the diet. It also avoids the expense, inconvenience and
potential low blood sugar associated with starvation during inpatient
initiation. However, the intense educational process that inpatients
receive could be preferable for some families and centres.

Lead author Dr Jeffrey Buchhalter commented:

'Our
study shows that it's possible to begin the diet safely as an
outpatient and maintain it without restricting fluids as done in other
centres. For parents with children who have epilepsy, it means
potentially fewer days of lost work while the diet is initiated and
more comfort for their child. However, we do recommend that these
findings need to be confirmed in a prospective study.'

The
researchers say further study is needed for more definitive answers
about the best conditions for implementing and maintaining of the
Ketogenic Diet.

There
was no evidence that inpatient initiation of the Ketogenic Diet was
superior to outpatient initiation with regard to long-term seizure
control or mental improvement. This improvement rate was similar to the
range of other reported studies. In the study, there were no
statistical differences in outcome between the groups started as
inpatients and outpatients.