Unanswered Questions, Challenges in Epilepsy Diets: Robyn Blackford, RD, LDN


The registered dietitian at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital discussed the unknowns in terms of managing and prescribing diets for patients with epilepsy. [WATCH TIME 3 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 3 minutes

"We would like to know how the diet is working and who it’s best for. That way, we can target these patients better and have a more precise approach to taking care of them without having to do trials of different medicines or trials of a diet."

In epilepsy, dietary interventions can help those with poorly controlled seizures by balancing specific levels of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to affect how the brain works. This approach, known as the ketogenic diet, is carried out under the supervision of a dietitian and an epilepsy specialist. This diet is mostly used for children with epilepsy who are unresponsive to antiseizure medications; however, it has become more widely available for adults.

Although there are some common triggers for seizures, such as lack of sleep, stress and alcohol, each patient’s epilepsy is different. Though dieting has provided an additional benefit towards the epilepsy community, there are still several questions that remain about its use and why it’s so effective. Additionally, although it is commonly known that dieting may provide additional benefit to more refractor forms of epilepsy, there is not enough literature comparing its effectiveness across the many subtypes.

Robyn Blackford, RD, LDN, registered dietitian, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, has been prescribing and managing diets for patients with epilepsy for over 15 years. She sat down with NeurologyLive to provide her thoughts on the challenges she faces on a day-to-day basis, as well as where the unknowns currently exist within the space.

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