As has been a long-standing tradition here at Keto News, I will provide a brief update on what ketogenic diet related activities occurred at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society (AES). Meetings that happen on the off years between the large biannual international ketogenic diet conferences tend to have lots of great information, and this year’s meeting in my home town of Baltimore, Maryland, was no exception. However, it is really hard to top last year’s historic meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, which included the first ever large symposium within the AES meeting.
Importance of Teamwork and Expectations
Saturday, December 5, at 3:00 p.m. ET, there was a session entitled, “Best Practices in Clinical Epilepsy: Challenges in the Care of Patients with Intractable Epilepsy.” The second lecture during the session was from Courtney Haney RD from Johns Hopkins about ketogenic diets. Courtney highlighted the importance of teamwork and spending time going over the multiple diets and parent/patient expectations before the diet actually starts. The room was packed and literally standing room only!
Can changing the bacteria in your intestines improve epilepsy?
Sunday, December 6, at 7:00 a.m. ET, there was an “Investigator Workshop” entitled, “Gut Microbiome and Epilepsy: Paradigm Shifting Advances for Understanding and Treating Epilepsy.” Although not a session specifically focused on the ketogenic diet, all the lectures focused on how important it may be to understand how changing the bacteria in your intestines (potentially with the ketogenic diet) could improve epilepsy. Speakers included Dr. Gloria Choi, Dr. Andrey Mazarati, and Dr. Elaine Hsiao (pictured below), who wrote the paper in Cell last year that garnered so much attention on this issue. See this September 2018 article for more details.
As is usually the case, Monday was the big “keto day.” The morning 7:00 a.m. Special Interest Group included myself, Dr. Elizabeth Felton (Wisconsin), Dr. Karin Borges (Australia), and Gabrielle Sarlo (American University, DC).
- Dr. Felton and I presented a point-counterpoint, combined lecture on the challenges and opportunities from a pediatric and adult perspective on how to best transition older teens to adult ketogenic diet centers.
- Dr. Borges discussed her experience with MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil in human and animal studies of the ketogenic diet.
- Finally, Ms. Sarlo highlighted her work at Children’s National Medical Center in creating a 2-page, standardized, parent-reported information form to ask important questions before the clinic visit that could be easily forgotten or ignored.
Keto Poster Walking Tour
I led the annual “Keto Walking Tour” of important posters at 1:00 p.m. ET on Monday. It was attended by over 20 AES members and guests. We visited seven posters, but there were over 20 posters altogether highlighting the latest clinical and basic science research! We certainly couldn’t visit them all on the tour this year!
Some of the highlights were
- Creation of a credit card sized “emergency guide” to give parents of children on the ketogenic diet to avoid problems in outside hospitals (Boston Children’s Hospital)
- Comparison of the perceived effects of the ketogenic diet vs. antiseizure medications on quality of life from a parental perspective (Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital)
- Incidence of leukopenia (low white blood cell counts) in some children on the ketogenic diet (Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group)
- Value of using the ketogenic diet in an emergency situation (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
- Finding that hospital-led support groups, meetings, phone calls strongly promote parent psychological benefits for ketogenic diet centers (Children’s National Medical Center) – see photo below of presentor Dr. Amy Kao and myself
Exhibitors and Attendees
The meeting also was attending as usual by representatives of charity support groups (Matthew’s Friends, Glut1 Deficiency Foundation, and The Charlie Foundation), and formula companies Nutricia and Ajinomoto. A new company present was Trumacro Nutrition, and they had foods, snacks and ketone esters available for tasting.
The next American Epilepsy Society annual meeting will be in December 2020 in Seattle, Washington.