Growth of children on classical and medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diets

Pediatrics. 2008 Aug;122(2):e334-40. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-2410.


Objective: The objectives of this study were to examine growth in children on classical and medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diets and to investigate any association between growth and calorie or protein intake.

Methods: Weight, height, and BMI z scores were recorded for children who were initiated on 1 of 2 ketogenic diets at baseline and after 3, 6, and 12 months, if continued. Mean calorie and protein intakes during treatment were calculated for children who completed 12 months on the diet. Changes in growth were compared between the 2 diets, and the association between growth and dietary intake was examined.

Results: Seventy-five children provided growth data. Weight z scores decreased significantly between baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months; height z scores showed no change at 3 months but decreased significantly by 6 and 12 months. This was more significant in the younger and ambulatory children. Subdivision according to diet type showed weight z scores to decrease significantly in the medium-chain triglyceride group only at 3 and 6 months and in both groups at 12 months. Height z scores decreased significantly in both groups by 6 and 12 months. Forty children completed 12 months of treatment; in this group, the slopes of best-fit regression lines of serial z-score measures were used to represent growth trend. There were no significant differences in mean slope between classical and medium-chain triglyceride diet groups for weight, height, or BMI. There was no significant difference in mean calorie intake during the 12 months between the 2 diets, but the medium-chain triglyceride group had significantly higher protein intake. There was no significant correlation between calorie or protein intakes and the slope of the best-fit line for weight, height, or BMI.

Conclusions: Both weight and height z scores decreased during diet treatment. By 12 months, there was no difference in outcome between classical and medium-chain triglyceride protocols despite the increased protein in the latter diet.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Growth / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ketone Bodies / biosynthesis
  • Male
  • Probability
  • Risk Assessment
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / diet therapy*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Ketone Bodies
  • Triglycerides