How effective is the ketogenic diet in treating infantile spasms?

Shaun A. Hussain, MD
The ketogenic diet is sometimes recommended for children with infantile spasms. In a normal diet, about 25% of calories come from fat, but in the ketogenic diet 85% of calories are derived from fat and only about 15% of calories come from sugars and proteins. This is a pretty extreme diet, and it is not something you should endeavor to do at home on your own. Typically, children requiring the ketogenic diet for infantile spasms are admitted to the hospital to ensure that this diet is well tolerated and safe.

The only catch is that it is not always as effective as advertised. A lot of this discrepancy may be because the quality of prior studies was not great. There have been no perfectly rigorous studies evaluating the ketogenic diet. The truth is probably somewhere in-between–it may work for some children but not all.

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