Ketogenic diet could reduce sleep problems in children with hard-to-treat epilepsy, study shows

8 Nov 2021

The ketogenic diet could help reduce sleep anxiety in children with hard-to-treat epilepsy, a new Turkish study, published in Epilepsy & Behavior, has found.

It is known that sleep problems are common in children with hard to treat epilepsy. The research by Dr Aycan Ünalp and colleagues aimed to find out what effect the ketogenic diet would have on the sleep quality of children with epilepsy and their mothers.

Fourteen children were included in the research. Their families were asked to complete questionnaires before starting treatment with the ketogenic diet, and after three months of treatment.

After three months of treatment, half of the participants (seven) reported improvement in quality of sleep, a third (five) reported worse sleep quality, and two people saw no change.

Even though sleep scores improved for both children with epilepsy and their mothers, the findings were not statistically significant. However, after the third month of following the ketogenic diet, a significant decrease in sleep anxiety was found in the children.

The research found that seizures stopped in half of the children (seven) and in most of the rest (six), seizures were more than halved. About two thirds (71%) of the children whose sleep quality improved also became seizure free on the ketogenic diet. The researchers explained this indicates that poor seizure control is linked to sleep problems.

The researchers acknowledged that the study had limitations, the most important of which was the small number of children involved. They said a large-scale study with a longer study period is needed.

The study is available on the Epilepsy & Behavior website.


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