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Liberalized low–glycemic-index diet effective for seizure reduction



Five days per week of a low–glycemic-index diet proved as effective for reducing seizure frequency as the strict, full-on 7-days-a-week regimen in children and adolescents with drug-resistant epilepsy in a randomized, double-blind, 24-week, noninferiority study.

Dr. Prateek K. Panda of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi Bruce Jancin/MDedge News

Dr. Prateek K. Panda

The low–glycemic-index diet (LGID) was introduced as a kinder, gentler, variant of the classic ketogenic diet for seizure frequency reduction. The ketogenic diet’s efficacy for this purpose is well established, but compliance is a problem and discontinuation rates are high. Yet even though the LGID was designed to be less onerous than the ketogenic diet, many children and parents also find the 7-days-a-week LGID to be excessively burdensome. This was the impetus for pitting the daily LGID against an intermittent version – 5 days on, 2 days off – in a randomized trial, Prateek K. Panda, MD, explained at the International Epilepsy Congress.

The hypothesis of this noninferiority trial was that adherence to the liberalized LGID would be similar to or better than that with the daily LGID regimen, with resultant similar reductions in seizure frequency. And further, that patients on the intermittent LGID would feel better because it would help improve depleted glycogen stores important for daily activity and that the liberalized diet would also be rated more favorably by caregivers, Dr. Panda said at the congress sponsored by the International League Against Epilepsy.

The 24-week, single-center trial included 122 children ages 1-15 years with drug-resistant epilepsy. At baseline they averaged 99 seizures per week by parental diary despite being on a median of four antiepileptic drugs. A total of 88% of participants had some form of structural epilepsy; the rest had a probable or confirmed genetic cause for their seizure disorder, according to Dr. Panda of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.

The standard daily LGID was comprised of 10% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 60% fat, with only low–glycemic-index foods permitted. The cohort randomized to the liberalized diet ate that way on weekdays; however, on Saturdays and Sundays their diet was 20% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 50% fat, with both medium- and low–glycemic-index foods allowed.

The primary outcome was the mean reduction in seizures per week by caregiver records at 24 weeks. The reduction from baseline was 54% in the strict LGID group and not significantly different at 49% in the intermittent LGID patients. Overall, 54% of patients in the strict LGID arm experienced a greater than 50% reduction in weekly seizure frequency, as did 50% on the liberalized diet, a nonsignificant difference.

There were five study dropouts in the strict LGID group and three in the liberalized LGID cohort. The two groups showed similar improvements over baseline in measures of social function, behavior, and cognition. Parents of children in the liberalized LGID group rated that diet as significantly less difficult to administer than those randomized to the strict LGID therapy.

Mean hemoglobin A1c improved in the strict LGID patients from 5.7% at baseline to 5.1% at both 12 and 24 weeks. The intermittent LGID group went from 5.6% to 5.0% and then to 5.2%. There was no correlation between HbA1c and reduction in seizure frequency. In contrast, serum beta-hydroxybutyrate levels showed a moderate correlation with seizure frequency, a novel finding which if confirmed might render beta-hydroxybutyrate useful as a biomarker, according to Dr. Panda.

Adverse events – mostly dyslipidemia and GI complaints such as vomiting or constipation – occurred in 25% of the strict LGID group and 13% with the intermittent LGID. All adverse events were mild.

Dr. Panda reported having no financial conflicts regarding the study, sponsored by the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences.

SOURCE: Panda PK et al. IEC 2019, Abstract P056.

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