Ketogenic Diet Therapy in Infants: Efficacy and Tolerability

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10 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study evaluated tolerability and efficacy of the ketogenic diet in infants less than 12 months of age. Methods: Infants <12 months of age, commencing the ketogenic diet between September 2007 and July 2016 were identified. Records were reviewed for epilepsy details, diet initiation details, efficacy and tolerability. Results: Twenty-seven infants commenced the ketogenic diet (56% male, median age seven months). Median age at seizure onset was 1.9 months and 92% had daily seizures. An epilepsy syndrome was noted in 19 (West-11, Epilepsy in Infancy with Migrating Focal Seizures-5, Early Myoclonic Encephalopathy-1, Ohtahara-1, Dravet-1). Infants were on a median of two and had failed a median of one medications for lack of efficacy. All initiated a traditional ketogenic diet at full calories without fasting, and all but one started the diet in hospital. Significant hypoglycemia during initiation was seen in two - both had emesis +/- decreased oral intake. Eighty-eight percent developed urinary ketosis by 48 hours and all were successfully discharged on the diet (median ratio 3:1). Of those continuing dietary therapy, responder rates at one, six and 12 months were 68%, 82% and 91%, with 20%, 29% and 27% achieving seizure freedom. By 12 months, two stopped the diet for serious adverse effects, five discontinued for lack of efficacy, six were lost to follow-up and two died of unrelated causes. Conclusions: The ketogenic diet is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for infants with intractable epilepsy. In-hospital initiation is strongly recommended due to risk of hypoglycemia with emesis or reduced intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPediatric Neurology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Epilepsy
  • Infant
  • Ketogenic
  • Ketogenic diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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