Ketogenic diet not associated with long-term adverse effects

March 1, 2010

The high-fat ketogenic diet, used to manage seizures in children with epilepsy, may have no enduring adverse events, according to new research.

The high-fat ketogenic diet, used to manage seizures in children with epilepsy, may have no enduring adverse effects, according to new research published online in February in the journal Epilepsia.

The study analyzed 101 patients aged 2 to 26 years who had been on the ketogenic diet for a minimum of 16 months and for up to 8 years between 1993 and 2008. At follow-up, patients had been off the diet for 0.8 years to 14 years. Results showed that nearly 80% of the patients maintained a seizure-free status or had their number of seizures cut in half.

The ketogenic diet has been shown to temporarily elevate cholesterol, inhibit growth, and in rare instances, result in kidney stones. In this study, none of the patients noted adverse cardiovascular effects, but 1 patient did have high blood pressure. Just 2 of the patients had kidney stones after quitting the diet, which reflects the rate of kidney stones in the general population not on the ketogenic diet, according to the researchers. Just 3 of the 26 patients who were tested for cholesterol levels had abnormal numbers. The researchers noted that patients' cholesterol levels do increase while the patient is on the ketogenic diet, but the values usually return to normal once the diet is discontinued.