Efficacy of ketogenic diet for infantile spasms: A systematic review

Acta Neurol Scand. 2018 Jan;137(1):4-11. doi: 10.1111/ane.12830. Epub 2017 Sep 6.


The aim of this systematic review was to collect and analyze all the RCTs and observational studies investigating the efficacy of ketogenic diet (KD) in infantile spasms (IS) patients after a 1- to 6-month follow-up period, in terms of decrease in seizure frequency of >50% or a seizure-free interval. Moreover, the potential effect of gender, IS etiology, age at onset of IS, and age at start of KD have been investigated. Finally, we evaluated the seizure-free rate at 12 and 24 months of follow-up. In June 2016, a computer search was performed on MedLine (PubMed), EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library. Only, English language studies conducted after 1980 and those reporting in detail the variation in seizure frequency have been selected. Thirteen observational studies (341 patients) were included in the final analysis. A median rate of 64.7% of patients experienced a spasm reduction >50% (IQR: 38.94%). The median spasm-free rate was 34.61% (IQR: 37.94%). IS of unknown etiology seemed to have an increased probability of achieving freedom from seizures (RR: 1.72, 95%CI: 1.18-2.53). Long-time follow-up data revealed a median seizure-free rate of 9.54% (IQR: 18.23%). Although the literature is still lacking in high-quality studies, which could provide a stronger level evidence, our findings suggest a potential benefit of KD for drug-resistant IS patients.

Keywords: efficacy; epilepsy; infantile spasms; ketogenic diet; systematic review; west syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet, Ketogenic / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Spasms, Infantile / diet therapy*