By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -
For years doctors have been trying to find new ways to treat epileptic seizures in children.
Often children with epilepsy don't respond well to medication, but now there's a new diet that doctors say might be a better treatment than medication.
It's a meal that takes nearly an hour to prepare because everything has to be weighed and measured.
"It's hard work and you need to keep track that they don't put anything into their mouth that they're not supposed to," said mother Bertha Guillen.
Her son Santiago suffers from epilepsy, and while many medications have failed to help his seizures, the ketogenic diet seems to be working.
"In the beginning it was heartbreaking, his seizures weren't stopping," Guillen said. "I knew the diet would be high in fats, but in a healthy way."
It's a one-of-a-kind diet program at Children's Mercy South Hospital and it consists of some surprising things.
"This typically includes roughly about three to four parts fat to one part protein and carbohydrate," said Dr. Ahmed Abdelmoity, the chief of epilepsy and neurology at the hospital.
The ketogenic diet seems to go against everything people normally think about when it comes to diet. It's high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates. But what it does for kids suffering from epileptic seizures is pretty amazing.
"The reason our kids don't end up having a problem with weight or obesity is because we also limit the amount of carbohydrates," Abdelmoity said.
In turn, the fat in the diet helps brain activity.
"The quality of life and attention and cognition improved with the ketogenic diet. Patients feel happier, they feel better, they sleep better," Abdelmoity said.
While not everyone is sold on the diet, neurologists at Children's Mercy have found it safe to use in children, and with no seizures in over a year, Santiago's mom agrees.
"It's a blessing to see all the progress he's made. Development-wise, he's been taking leaps," Guillen said.
The ketogenic diet has been around for about 15 years, but only in the last six months has research been able to back up its work with epileptic seizures.
Children's Mercy currently offers one of the largest ketogenic diet programs in the country and doctors say about one in three children with epilepsy qualify as candidates for the diet.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.). All rights reserved.
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