Seyed Hassan Tonekaboni * , Parvin Mostaghimi, Parvin Mirmiran, Ali Abbaskhanian, Fatemeh Abdollah Gorji, Mohammad Ghofrani, Fereidoun Azizi


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The ketogenic diet is an effective medical therapy for intractable childhood epilepsy. However, it has drawbacks in that it restricts calories, fluids and protein. The Atkins diet may also induce ketosis without those restrictions. Our objective was to evaluate the efficacy of a modified Atkins diet in children with intractable childhood epilepsy.


METHODS: This clinical trial was conducted in 51 epileptic children aged 1 – 16 years with refractory seizures from Feb. 2004 to Oct. 2006. Outcome measures included seizure frequency and adverse reactions. Twenty-seven patients left the study for various reasons, leaving 24 who continued the Atkins diet for a minimum of three months. Carbohydrates were initially limited to 10 g/day and fats constituted 60% of the total energy requirement. All participants received vitamin and calcium supplementation.


RESULTS: Following three months of treatment with the Atkins diet, 16 patients (67&percnt;) had &gt;50&percnt; decrease in seizure frequency, and 6 (25&percnt;) had &gt;90&percnt; improvement, of whom 5 were seizure-free. Mean seizure frequency after the first, second and third months of treatment were significantly lower than at baseline (P values <0.001, 0.001 and 0.002, respectively).


CONCLUSION: The Atkins diet can be considered as a safe and effective alternative therapy for intractable childhood epilepsy. Atkins diet was well tolerated in our patients with rare complications and it appears to demonstrate preliminary efficacy in childhood refractory epilepsy.