The ketogenic diet may have a positive impact on behaviour and thinking skills in children with drug-resistant epilepsy, according to a study conducted in the Netherlands. The results are published in the scientific journal Epilepsy and Behavior.The randomised controlled trial, led by Dr Albert Aldenkamp, from Epilepsy Center Kempenhaeghe, recruited 50 children with drug-resistant epilepsy, aged between one and 18 years. After a one-month baseline period, subjects were randomly divided into two groups: one that received the ketogenic diet for four months (28 people) and the other that continued with their usual diet (22 people). All participants continued to take their usual epilepsy medication throughout the study.The children underwent behavioural and cognition (thinking skills) assessments at two time points – at ‘baseline’ (just before randomisation) and after the ketogenic diet group was four months into treatment. The assessments  involved a combination of questionnaires filled by the children’s parents and psychological tests completed by the children themselves. They were designed to examine how much epilepsy affected the child’s ability to take part in everyday activities such as swimming, riding a bicycle, staying outside of their home overnight and participating in physical education; their relationships with their peers; their productivity; their level of dependency; and their mood (hostility, anxiety/depression and withdrawal).The investigators compared the baseline and four-month assessment scores, both within and across the groups, and found that the ketogenic diet was linked to an increase in activity and productivity ratings; and an improvement in anxiety and other mood problems. It was also associated with an improvement in thinking skills.According to the authors, these results add to the growing body of evidence that the ketogenic diet is a viable treatment option for children with drug-resistant epilepsy.Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaClick here for more articles about other treatments for epilepsy.