The ketogenic diet in children with epilepsy

Br J Nutr. 2006 Jan;95(1):5-13. doi: 10.1079/bjn20051591.


Children with epilepsy, especially those facing intractable seizures, experience a great impact on the quality of their lives. Effective treatment is essential, and although new anti-epileptic drugs have shown an improved profile of action, still a substantial number of children look for more efficacious ways of treatment that are far away from potential toxicity and ineffectiveness. The ketogenic diet is a dietary therapy for epileptic children based on manipulation of metabolism principles and brain energetics. This regimen aims to produce a controlled ketonaemia through excessive dietary fat intake, little carbohydrates and adequate (for growth) protein. The present paper is a review of previous and current papers regarding the proposed mechanisms of the ketogenic diet's action, and the efficacy of the regimen on epileptic children. Unfortunately, a few small studies in sample size and duration tried to evaluate the potential risks of this regimen and their results were rather inconclusive. Further research needs to be done in order for the exact mechanism of the ketogenic diet to be clarified which will help to improve the diet's application, especially for vulnerable epileptic children as far as their growth is concerned.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology
  • Diet Therapy / adverse effects
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Epilepsy / diet therapy*
  • Epilepsy / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ketones / metabolism
  • Ketosis / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Starvation / metabolism


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Ketones