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Special diet may help epileptic children

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ROCHESTER, Minn., Oct 20, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Minnesota researchers say a diet mimicking the effects of starvation can be used successfully on epileptic children on an outpatient basis.

The Mayo Clinic study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Pediatric Neurology, offers data that compared inpatient and outpatient treatments using a so-called ketogenic diet.

The researchers said the benefits of outpatient treatment include improved acceptability and the ability to maintain and comply with the diet. It also avoids the expense, inconvenience and potential low blood sugar associated with starvation during inpatient initiation. However, the intense educational process that inpatients receive could be preferable for some families and centers.

The ketogenic diet, which is very high in fats and low in carbohydrates, makes the body burn fat for energy instead of glucose. The diet mimics the effects of starvation.

When carefully monitored by a medical team familiar with its use, the diet helps two of three epileptic children and may prevent seizures in one of three, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.

The diet has to be rigidly controlled; any deviation can produce a seizure.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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