Ketogenic Diets for Mothers and Epileptic Babies
Epilepsy is relatively common in infants and children. Most will grow out of this condition which causes seizures and spasms but there are still steps parents and caregivers can take to better ensure their child’s safety.
Please note: none of the information contained in this article should NOT replace guidance from a professional health care provider. If your child is experiencing seizures, please reach out to your doctor right away.
The ketogenic diet, (commonly known as the keto diet) has recently gained a lot of attention and popularity. It is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has been shown to offer many health benefits in adults. By greatly reducing carbohydrates and replacing them with fat, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis.
Your body then becomes extremely efficient at burning fat for energy, and the fat also supplies energy for your brain among other benefits.
“For infants with epilepsy, medications don’t always work, and they sometimes have negative or even intolerable side effects.”
There are different versions of the ketogenic diet but fundamentally most involve avoiding carb-based foods such as grains, sugars, rice, potatoes, legumes and even fruit. These foods are replaced with meat, fish, eggs, healthy oils, and lots of green and low-carb vegetables.
But what does this mean for babies still on a breastmilk or formula diet?
For infants with epilepsy, medications don’t always work, and they sometimes have negative or even intolerable side effects. Of course the very young cannot yet consume solid foods, but they can still follow a ketogenic diet.
“We recommend incorporating breastmilk along with the keto formula if possible.”
It wasn’t until the 1990’s that pre-made commercial ketogenic diet formula became available due to a history of discouragement based on the fear of possible hypoglycemia (blood sugar being lower than normal), but upon more research, we now know it can be a very effective way to treat epilepsy.
Previously, it wasn’t established whether infants could even be ketogenic but the most recent studies indicate they certainly can reach and maintain ketosis (often even better than older children and adults).
While some encourage a diet exclusively composed of keto formula, we recommend incorporating breastmilk with a 3 to 1 ratio of formula to milk if possible due to its abundance of health benefits.
“A well formulated keto diet with plenty of protein and healthy fats can increase the caloric and fat content of your milk without upsetting its nutrition.”
If you’re an individual who breastfeeds and is considering a keto diet, you will be happy to learn that it is safe for your breastfeeding child, and may even benefit both of you. Just be sure it is rich in nutrients.
A well formulated keto diet with plenty of protein and healthy fats can increase the caloric and fat content of your milk without upsetting its nutrition. It’s a diet that breastfeeding mothers and children with epilepsy can follow for mutual wellbeing.