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Mother and daughter sitting on a bench
Mother and daughter sitting on a bench

Drug-resistant Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder affecting the brain. While many patients will respond well to anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), 36% of patients in Ireland with epilepsy have inadequate control of seizures, despite using AEDs.1 This is known as drug resistant or refractory epilepsy and is defined as a failure of two or more appropriately chosen AEDs to achieve seizure freedom.1 Furthermore, there are many side effects commonly associated with AEDs including drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.2 Additionally, patients are at increased risk of injury hospital visits, development issues, depression and anxiety.3


Epilepsy affects 1 in every 115 people in Ireland over the age of 54

The power of ketogenic diet therapy (KDT)

For patients with refractory epilepsy, a ketogenic diet of high fat, low carbohydrate and adequate protein can provide a way forward. Research shows that KDT offers a 50% chance of reducing seizures, when used under medical supervision.5 KDT effectively changes the body’s metabolism, using ketones from fat as the main source of energy rather than glucose from carbohydrate. This change in metabolism is thought to be one of the key mechanisms by which KDT works to reduce seizure activity.6 Candidates for KDT include, but not limited to, Dravet syndrome, Doose syndrome, FIRES, infantile spasms, super-refractory status epilepticus and Angelman syndrome.7

Download our infographic to learn more about KDT


Nutricia offer a range of Foods for Medical Purposes (FSMPs) for the dietary management of drug resistant epilepsy and other conditions where KDT is indicated. These are available in the form of the KetoCal range which aims to help make KDT easier and more manageable for adults and children living on the diet. Fewer seizures make for a better quality of life and Nutricia are committed to researching new ketogenic products and services to help make an even greater difference to the people who need it.8

We work with hospitals and charities to support greater access to the benefits of KDT and in turn a better quality of life 

In addition to the KetoCal range, Nutricia support patients following KDT and their families by holding events where they can meet, share experiences and swap ideas. We understand that mealtimes are an important part of family life that can be impacted by KDT. Therefore, we aim to make mealtimes easier with face-to-face and online cookery demos from our expert KDT chef, print and digital cookery books along with an online diet management tool called My Keto Planner for dietitians to use in collaboration with their patients.

Nutricia work with Epilepsy Ireland to raise awareness of epilepsy and the treatment options that are available for patients


  1.  Kwan, P., Arzimanoglou, A. and Berg, A (2010) ‘Definition of Drug-resistant Epilepsy: Consensus Proposal by the Ad Hoc Task Force of the ILAE Commission on Therapeutic Strategies’, Epilepsia, 51(6), pp. 1069–1077
  2.  Epilepsy Foundation (2018) ‘Risks with Epilepsy’, Available at: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/risks-epilepsy#.W6DyWehKjIU   (Accessed: 16th October 2020)
  3.  Epilepsy Society (2018) ‘Risks with Epilepsy’, Available at: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/risks-epilepsy#.W6DyWehKjIU (Accessed: 16th October 2020)
  4.  Linehan, C., Kerr, M.P., Walsh, P.N. et al. (2010) “Examining the prevalence of epilepsy and delivery of epilepsy care in Ireland”, Epilepsia, 51(5), pp. 845-852.
  5.  Martin K et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016:CD001903.pub3 
  6.  Levy R, Cooper P. Update in Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;3:CD001903.
  7.  Kossoff, E. et al., 2018 ‘Optimal Clinical Management of Children Receiving Dietary Therapies for Epilepsy: Updated Recommendations of the International Ketogenic Diet Study Group’. Epilepsia Open: 1-18
  8.  Williams E, Szwec C & Emlyn-Jones N (2018) Coping with complex epilepsy whilst striving for a quality of life for the whole family - facilitating a parent’s perspective issue 4, pp. 15-16

The Ketocal range are Foods for Special Medical Purposes for the dietary management of drug resistant epilepsy or other conditions where the ketogenic diet is indicated and must be used under medical supervision.


Visit our Resource Centre for a wide range of professional resources to support you and your patients.


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