Cerebral Palsy and Seizures

Children with cerebral palsy have suffered brain damage.  Because of this, it increases the chances of them having seizures due to abnormal nerve cell activity.

About 15-60% of children with CP have seizures. By being on a ketogenic diet, a CP child’s brain activity can be altered, which can help control seizure activity.

What Is a Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet is a low carb, high-fat diet. This type of diet causes the body to continually produce ketones. Ketones are a byproduct of the body breaking down fat for energy that occurs when carbohydrate intake is low.  

Ketone production causes a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process. When the body does not have enough glucose for energy, it burns stored fats instead.

Following a ketogenic diet is easy. Here are some examples of ketogenic foods and non-ketogenic foods. 

Examples of Ketogenic FoodsLeafy Greens

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Coconut oil
  • Leafy greens
  • Avocado 

Foods to Avoid

Milk

  • Grains
  • Processed foods
  • Milk
  • Artificial sweeteners 

A Ketogenic Diet Can Improve Seizures

Some researchers have studied the effect of a ketogenic diet and how it can improve seizures. Scientists have discovered that this diet can alter genes involved in energy metabolism in the brain.

What this means is that when we change the main fuel of the brain from glucose to ketones, we change the amino acid handling. This changes the ratios of glutamate and GABA. Both Glutamate and GABA are neurotransmitters. Having too much or too little of either has been linked to causing many diseases and health disorders.

  • Glutamate – sends signals to your brain and nerves. It helps your brain with learning and development.
  • GABA – blocks the impulses of the nerve cells in your brain. Researchers believe that it may help with relaxing your nervous system.

The best responders to a ketogenic diet for seizures end up with the highest amount of GABA in the central nervous system. Because of this, there is a decrease in the occurrence of seizures.

Getting Started with the Ketogenic Diet

Before starting the ketogenic diet, your child will need to see their pediatrician for a full evaluation. Once you get medical clearance from your pediatrician then you can start the diet.

This diet should gradually be introduced to your child over several days. It may take weeks or even months to see results. For the best results, it is important to stay consistent and do not deviate from the diet.

During the diet, your child will need frequent monitoring. Make sure to keep a diary of symptoms. Also, schedule appointments with their pediatrician for monitoring their seizure symptoms and growth.

Your child will also need to take supplements of vitamins and minerals to ensure that their diet is balanced. Here are a few supplements that your child should be taking during the ketogenic diet.

Vitamins and Minerals to Take During Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is a sure way to start up the process of using fats for fuel. However, the diet may cause a possible deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals.

  • Vitamin C – maintains the health of bones, muscles, immune system and neurological system.
  • Vitamin B6 –  regulates the blood, immune system, hormonal systems and nervous system.
  • Zinc –  enhances muscle control, metabolic processes, and overall health.
  • Magnesium –  improves muscle spasms, fatigue, and weakness.

A child named Nora was experiencing unexplained seizures. After meeting with her doctor, her parents decided to give the keto diet a chance. Read more about Nora and her parent’s journey as they embraced the keto diet into their lives and how Nora is now seizure free.