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Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy
At Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, we offer experts who are highly trained in managing the ketogenic diet as a treatment for severe epilepsy. Gillette is the Twin Cities’ only nationally ranked Best Children’s Hospital in pediatric neurology and neurosurgery, and our team also includes specialists in pediatrics, nutrition and nursing.
For many of our patients, the ketogenic diet reduces or eliminates seizures.
Why Choose Gillette?
- Gillette is the Twin Cities’ only nationally ranked Best Children’s Hospital in pediatric neurology and neurosurgery.
- We offer a team of experts highly trained in managing the ketogenic diet for certain types of seizures, such as atonic, myoclonic and generalized.
- Our team provides extensive family support and education to help increase the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet.
- We also offer expertise in the low-glycemic index diet.
Ketogenic Diet Definition
The ketogenic diet is a highly specialized diet used to treat some types of epilepsy. The diet is very high in fat and low in carbohydrates. It provides the recommended dietary allowance for protein. The diet causes the body to continually produce ketones, producing a state called ketosis. The state of ketosis decreases seizures in some people.
Children deemed good candidates for the diet can be fed orally, use feeding tubes, or use a combination of both methods to take in nutrition. The diet requires a carefully controlled induction (start), strict adherence, and regular follow-up care by trained professionals.
Candidates for the Ketogenic Diet
We consider the ketogenic diet for patients whose seizures aren’t controlled by antiepileptic medications. The diet is often most effective for children who have atonic, tonic, myoclonic and generalized seizures. Other types of seizures can improve on the diet as well. Our team has extensive experience in selecting patients who might benefit from the diet.
Starting the Ketogenic Diet
Patients must begin the ketogenic diet at the hospital, where we can closely monitor blood sugar levels, vital signs and ketones. We also perform routine baseline tests, such as renal ultrasound, electrocardiogram and other exams as needed.
We use a ratio to describe the ketogenic diet’s macronutrient (fat, carbohydrate and protein) requirements. For most children, the ratio falls between 3:1 and 4:1—meaning the child takes in three to four times as many calories from fat as from protein and carbohydrates.
Life on the Ketogenic Diet
After patients start the diet, follow-up visits typically occur every three months. To experience optimal seizure control, proper health and appropriate growth, patients must adhere strictly to the diet.
In addition to following the diet’s nutrition requirements, patients must monitor the ingredients in their medicines and nonprescription products (such as vitamins and dietary supplements). Other that can affect the diet include:
- Intravenous fluids that contain dextroses
- Tooth swabs, syrups or suspensions
- Toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen and other topical lotions
We must factor in the presence of any carbohydrates in such products when planning the diet.
Ketogenic Diet Side Effects
Side effects of the ketogenic diet can include:
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Poor or delayed growth
- Renal stones
To avoid some side effects, children on the ketogenic diet must take vitamin and mineral supplements as prescribed by their care team.
Going Off the Ketogenic Diet
Patients usually leave the diet after two or three years of seizure control. The process happens gradually over six months. In rare cases, patients must continue the diet or follow a modified version to maintain seizure control.
Gillette’s ketogenic diet team is highly trained to initiate the diet and monitor its effects. A patient’s team most often includes specialists in the following disciplines:
For more information about Gillette’s comprehensive services, search Conditions and Care.
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