Ketogenic diet and childhood neurological disorders other than epilepsy: an overview

Expert Rev Neurother. 2017 May;17(5):461-473. doi: 10.1080/14737175.2017.1260004. Epub 2016 Nov 21.


In the last years, ketogenic diet (KD) has been experimentally utilized in various childhood neurologic disorders such as mitochondriopathies, alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC), brain tumors, migraine, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The aim of this review is to analyze how KD can target these different medical conditions, highlighting possible mechanisms involved. Areas covered: We have conducted an analysis on literature concerning KD use in mitochondriopathies, AHC, brain tumors, migraine, and ASD. Expert commentary: The role of KD in reducing seizure activity in some mitochondriopathies and its efficacy in pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency is known. Recently, few cases suggest the potentiality of KD in decreasing paroxysmal activity in children affected by AHC. A few data support its potential use as co-adjuvant and alternative therapeutic option for brain cancer, while any beneficial effect of KD on migraine remains unclear. KD could improve cognitive and social skills in a subset of children with ASD.

Keywords: Ketogenic diet; alternating hemiplegia; autism; brain tumors; migraine; mitochondrial diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diet therapy
  • Diet, Ketogenic*
  • Epilepsy
  • Hemiplegia / diet therapy
  • Humans
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / diet therapy*

Supplementary concepts

  • Alternating hemiplegia of childhood