Epilepsy, cognition and ketogenic diet
Introduction. Most individuals with epilepsy will respond to pharmacologic treatment; however, approximately 20-30% will develop medically refractory epilepsy. Cognitive side effects of antiepileptic drugs are common and can negatively affect tolerability, compliance, and long-term retention of the treatment. Ketogenic diet is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for these children with refractory epilepsy without any negative effect on cognition or behavior.
Aim. To review the current state of experimental and clinical data concerning the neuroprotective and cognitive effects of the ketogenic diet in both humans and animals.
Development. In different animal models, with or without epilepsy, the ketogenic diet seems to have neuroprotective and mood-stabilizing effects. In the observational studies in pediatric epilepsy, improvements during treatment with the ketogenic diet are reported in behavior and cognitive function, particularly with respect to attention, alertness, activity level, socialization, and sleep quality. One randomized controlled trial in patients with pediatric refractory epilepsy showed a mood and cognitive activation during ketogenic diet treatment.
Conclusions. Ketogenic diet shows a positive impact on behavioral and cognitive functioning in children and adolescents with refractory epilepsy. More specifically, an improvement is observed in mood, sustained attention, and social interaction.
Key words. Behavior. Cognition. Epilepsy. Ketogenic diet. Learning. Neurodevelopment.