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Front Pediatr. 2014 Jun 30;2:69. doi: 10.3389/fped.2014.00069. eCollection 2014.

Potential therapeutic use of the ketogenic diet in autism spectrum disorders.

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Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of California Davis , Davis, CA , USA.
Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of California Davis , Davis, CA , USA ; Medical Investigations of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (M. I. N. D.) Institute , Sacramento, CA , USA.


The ketogenic diet (KGD) has been recognized as an effective treatment for individuals with glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) and pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) deficiencies as well as with epilepsy. More recently, its use has been advocated in a number of neurological disorders prompting a newfound interest in its possible therapeutic use in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). One study and one case report indicated that children with ASD treated with a KGD showed decreased seizure frequencies and exhibited behavioral improvements (i.e., improved learning abilities and social skills). The KGD could benefit individuals with ASD affected with epileptic episodes as well as those with either PDH or mild respiratory chain (RC) complex deficiencies. Given that the mechanism of action of the KGD is not fully understood, caution should be exercised in ASD cases lacking a careful biochemical and metabolic characterization to avoid deleterious side effects or refractory outcomes.


autism spectrum disorders; bioenergetics; dietary intervention; epilepsy; ketogenic diet; mitochondria; oxidative stress

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