Why do kids get epilepsy? No one really knows. It can appear after a head injury, or more commonly, simply appear for no obvious reason. It is heartbreaking and terrifying to helplessly watch your child suffer a seizure. You have probably been told by your neurologist that drugs and surgery are the way to treat epilepsy and that there is no cure. It’s this helplessness that leads parents to take matters into their own hands and seek relief for their children.
It may seem unbelievable if you feel battered by an epilepsy diagnosis, but some kids do recover
from using a special eating regime called the ‘ketogenic’ diet, that has to be carefully calculated for each child, by a qualified dietician. You can see how this diet works by watching a telemovie called ‘First Do No Harm’ starring Meryl Streep. It tells the story of how a young boy developed epilepsy, deteriorated, then eventually recovered after using the ketogenic diet. There are lots of places you can buy the movie online, but I recommend going to the US-based The Charlie Foundation website, because it is a not-for-profit organisation that works to bring awareness of this diet to families who need it. Jim Abrahams, who made the movie, also had a son, Charlie, with severe epilepsy, who was treated with multiple drugs and surgery, which didn’t help. He began the ketogenic diet and Charlie’s seizures stopped just a few days after being on the diet. Jim eloquently tells his story in ‘Good News for People with Bad News’. He set up The Charlie Foundation website and runs international symposiums every four years that attract many hundreds of doctors from around the world who are learning about the ketogenic diet.
When his son Charlie needed the diet, there was just one hospital in the world with a dietician who knew how to use the ketogenic diet. That was the John’s Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Now, as a result of The Charlie Foundation’s work, there are over 200 hospitals around the world that have departments with trained dieticians.
There is also a UK website promoting the ketogenic diet called Matthew’s Friends. Founder Emma Williams, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours for her years of work on epilepsy, bringing knowledge of the ketogenic diet to grateful people.
If you want to check out a different kind of safe treatment for your child that is legal and has no side effects, these two websites are great resources. Some doctors say that the diet is way too difficult for families to manage, so they don’t tell parents about it, but parents say that the rigours of the diet are nothing compared to dealing with multiple seizures every day.
Research on the ketogenic diet dates back to the 1920’s. It’s been scientifically verified, reported on in medical journals and helped thousands of children around the world. Take a look at the websites, they are inspiring.