1. ITV Report

Special high-fat diet significantly lowers epileptic seizures

The ketogenic diet requires strict measurement of what is eaten. Credit: ITV West Country

Almost one hundred epileptic children across the South West are having their lives changed thanks to a special diet which reduces their seizures.

The ketogenic diet is high in fat and also low in carbohydrates and protein.

Dieticians at Bristol Children's Hospital have surveyed 90 children with epilepsy.

They found that in some children, this way of eating has stopped their seizures completely.

The diet encourages eating lots of fruit. Credit: ITV West Country

Although experts still aren't completely sure why it works - it's thought that it may make seizures less likely by altering the chemical composition of the brain.

Jack Savin from Bristol has been on a ketogenic diet for a year and a half.

His mother Mandy says since starting the diet Jack has gone from up to fifty seizures a day to at most two a week.

Mandy says the diet's effects were almost immediate:

Within a week we noticed he was a lot more alert. He wasn't sleeping as long. Even though he was still on the drugs, we did notice that he made eye contact with us for the first time since he became ill. That, for an autistic-spectrum child is quite a big deal. So it was great.

– Mandy Savin
Jack's diet requires constant preparation by Mandy. Credit: ITV West Country

Of the 90 children surveyed by Bristol Children's Hospital, two thirds saw more than a 50% reduction in their seizures.

In addition, more than 10% of the children saw their seizures stop entirely.

children surveyed saw their number of seizures decrease by more than half.
children surveyed saw their seizures stop entirely.

Jack is being supervised by dieticians at Bristol Children's Hospital.

His prescription diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrate and protein.

Mandy says it is a challenge to prepare all of his meals in a suitable way but it is worth it to see the improvement in his health.

He's on a diet which is controlling it rather than all these drugs putting him to sleep, making him drowsy. It's just so nice to be able to control it with food, rather than pumping all sorts of horribleness into him.

– Mandy Savin
Mandy says Jack has much more energy since beginning the diet. Credit: ITV West Country

Jack will spend a total of two years on the ketogenic diet.

Researchers say the effects can be permanent.

For more information on the ketogenic diet, you can visit the Great Ormond Street Hospital website.