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Fat diet "helps epileptic children"

A high-fat diet can help children with serious epilepsy, a study has confirmed.

When children were given the specialised diet, the number of seizures they suffered fell by more than a third in three months.

Those children not given the diet experienced a rise in seizures of over 33% during the study.

Although the ketogenic diet has been used to treat children whose  epilepsy is drug-resistant since the 1920s, this is the first time it has been properly tested.

The diet consists of large amounts of fat, little carbohydrate and controlled amounts of protein.

It is thought to mimic the biochemical response to starvation, when ketone bodies fuel the brain rather than sugar.

Ketones, an energy source for the heart and brain, are compounds produced when fatty acids are broken down in the liver and kidneys.

The trial, based at Great Ormond Street Hospital, involved 145 children aged between two and 16 who suffered epilepsy fits at least one a day or more than seven times a week.

The findings are reported in the Lancet Neurology.

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