Healthy GFCF Modified Atkins Diet for Treating Seizures in Autism (ASUF 30005962)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Healthy GFCF Modified Atkins Diet for Treating Seizures in Autism (ASUF 30005962) Healthy GFCF Modified Atkins Diet for Treating Seizures in Autism Abstract: Background: Seizures are common in individuals with autism, and are sometimes resistant to traditional medication therapy. Our recent survey of over 700 families with autism and seizures found that the modified Atkins diet and the GFCF diet were helpful in reducing seizures, and had a much better side-effect profile than traditional medications. Hypothesis: Determine if a combined GFCF modified Atkins Diet is effective in reducing seizure frequency and seizure duration in individuals with autism. Study Design and Methods: Open-label 4-month treatment study of 30 individuals with autism and seizures, with a post-study follow-up at 6 and 12 months. Significance/Impact: Seizures are a serious, life-threatening co-morbid condition in individuals with autism. Seizure medications are sometimes ineffective, and sometimes have adverse side-effects. A healthy GFCF modified Atkins diet is a very promising new therapy that appears likely to reduce seizure frequency by an average of 50%, with minimal adverse side-effects, and likely to result in other improvements in sleep, attention, communication, behavior, and mood. This will be the first study for individuals with autism, and if successful it will encourage many more families and physicians to try this treatment for both drug-resistant seizures, and possibly as an initial treatment for seizures. 2. Background: Seizures are common in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). There are multiple factors which can cause seizures, including brain malformation and metabolic disorders, but in approximately 80% of individuals the cause of seizures is unknown. The standard treatments for seizures are anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), but many children and adults do not respond to them, and they sometimes have undesired sideeffects. We recently conducted a national survey to evaluate the relative efficacy of a wide range of treatments for seizures in individuals with ASD (Frye et al 2011). Using cluster analysis, we grouped medications which had similar efficacy and similar levels of effects on symptoms. Figure 1 below displays the results for the four medications which had a combination of the highest efficacy in reducing seizures and the least side-effects on symptoms. All four medications tend to improve seizure symptoms, but they tend to have little effect or slightly worsen other symptoms (sleep, communication, behavior, attention, mood), on average.
Effective start/end date1/1/1410/16/15


  • Autism Research Institute: $19,636.00


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