Low glycemic index diet in children and young adults with refractory epilepsy: first Italian experience

Seizure. 2011 Sep;20(7):526-8. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2011.03.008. Epub 2011 Apr 13.


This is the report on the first Italian experience with the low glycemic index diet (LGIT) in a group of children, adolescents and young adults with refractory epileptic encephalopathies. A retrospective chart review was performed on patients initiating the LGIT in an outpatient setting from 2005 to 2010. Demographic and clinical information including seizure type, baseline seizure frequency, medications, blood chemistry, side effects, and anthropometrics were collected. Patients were educated and followed by a dietician to restrict foods with high glycemic index and to limit total daily carbohydrates to 40-60g. Change in seizure frequency was assessed at each 3-month follow-up intervals in the first year and then at each 6-month intervals. Fifteen consecutive patients (13 males and 2 females, aged between 11.3 years and 22 years), almost all affected by generalized cryptogenic or symptomatic refractory epilepsy, were enrolled in the study. After a mean follow-up period of 14.5±6.5 months (median 12.0; range 1-60 months), 6 patients (40%) had a 75-90% seizure reduction, while seizures decreased by 50% in other 2 (13.3%) and were unchanged in 7 (46.7%). The diet was discontinued in 4 patients within the first 5 months. No adverse events occurred during the diet. In conclusion, this initial experience confirms that some refractory patients may improve on the LGIT, even as first dietary option.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted*
  • Diet, Ketogenic
  • Epilepsy / diet therapy*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glycemic Index
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anticonvulsants