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Epilepsia. 2009 May;50(5):1127-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01958.x. Epub 2009 Feb 12.

Ketogenic diet in the treatment of refractory continuous spikes and waves during slow sleep.

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Childrens Department, Danish Epilepsy Centre, Dianalund, Denmark.



To evaluate the effect of the ketogenic diet on electroclinical characteristics and cognitive function in children with continuous spikes and waves during slow sleep (CSWS).


Five children (four boys, one girl) aged between 8 and 13 years with CSWS refractory to conventional antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), including levetiracetam, and steroids were included. The prospective electroclinical assessment was performed prior to the ketogenic diet and once every 6 months post initiation during the 2-year period. All children underwent neuropsychological testing prior to the ketogenic diet and four of the children again 12 months after the diet's introduction. In case 4 the testing has been performed after 7 months and the diet was withdrawn after 9 months because of the lack of efficacy and the parent's wishes. In two patients the cognitive functions were also evaluated after 24 months since the diet's initiation. During the period on the ketogenic diet the concomitant AED treatment was unchanged.


Electrographic evaluation after 24 months on the ketogenic diet showed CSWS resolution in one patient, mild decrease of the spike-wave index in one, and lack of response in three patients. The ketogenic diet did not influence the neuropsychological outcome, and intelligence quotient (IQ) scores remained low at the end of the follow-up period. However, in two patients an improvement in attention and behavior was demonstrated.


This is the first study evaluating the efficacy of the ketogenic diet in children with CSWS. Five presented cases were refractory to AEDs and steroids. Only one case responded with complete CSWS disappearance; in one the effect of the ketogenic diet was partial and intermittent, whereas in three patients no response has been observed. These results show that the ketogenic diet did not appear to influence the neuropsychological outcome; however, the absence of a control group makes it impossible to conclude with certainty.

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