Ketogenic diet guidelines for infants with refractory epilepsy

Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2016 Nov;20(6):798-809. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2016.07.009. Epub 2016 Jul 17.


Background: The ketogenic diet (KD) is an established, effective non-pharmacologic treatment for drug resistant childhood epilepsy. For a long time, the KD was not recommended for use in infancy (under the age of 2 years) because this is such a crucial period in development and the perceived high risk of nutritional inadequacies. Indeed, infants are a vulnerable population with specific nutritional requirements. But current research shows that the KD is highly effective and well tolerated in infants with epilepsy. Seizure freedom is often achieved and maintained in this specific patient group. There is a need for standardised protocols and management recommendations for clinical use.

Method: In April 2015, a project group of 5 experts was established in order to create a consensus statement regarding the clinical management of the KD in infants. The manuscript was reviewed and amended by a larger group of 10 international experts in the KD field. Consensus was reached with regard to guidance on how the diet should be administered and in whom.

Results: The resulting recommendations include patient selection, pre-KD counseling and evaluation, specific nutritional requirements, preferred initiation, monitoring of adverse effects at initiation and follow-up, evaluation and KD discontinuation.

Conclusion: This paper highlights recommendations based on best evidence, combined with expert opinions and gives directions for future research.

Keywords: Guidelines; Infant; Ketogenic diet; Refractory epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet, Ketogenic / methods*
  • Disease Management
  • Epilepsy / diet therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Treatment Outcome