Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy or JME is characterized by the presence of petit mal seizures (also known as absence seizures), grand mal seizures (also known as generalized tonic-clonic seizures) and myoclonic convulsions. It is the most common of the generalized epilepsy disorders to emerge in mid-to-late juveniles.
Appearance of Seizures Start between 4 and 15 Years of Age
Usually, the first convulsion type to be identified or present in initial stages are absence seizures –these have an onset between the ages of 4 and 15 years of age. Myoclonic seizures are noticed about 2 to 10 years later, with an average age of 14 to 16 years. Grand mal or tonic-clonic seizures appear a few months later; however there are chances that they can appear earlier. There is no dividing line and both females and males are affected in the same way.
Seizures upon Awakening
The seizures in juvenile epilepsy usually occur in the early morning hours, especially upon awakening and are consistent with sudden shaking movements of the limbs. The seizures generally begin late in babyhood and continue early into adulthood. Most patients notice onset of seizures around the beginning of puberty.
Role of Modified Atkins Diet in Controlling Seizures in JME
Besides anticonvulsants treatment for juvenile epilepsy, dietary modification can be very effective to treat JME, according to a report published in Epilepsy & Behavior.
The study showed that children and teenagers who followed Atkins Diet as a treatment for JME for minimum 1 month experienced a noteworthy drop in the frequency of seizures.
With facts and figures from various research and test programs, many doctors showed support for the use of the Modified Atkins Diet as a treatment to control seizure activity in people with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.
The Atkins diet is very well-known all around the globe for using carbohydrates to high fats ratios as part of their weight loss program. A diet with high fat has earlier shown to have used in childhood epilepsy with the Ketogenic diet being used in children with intractable epilepsy. However the use of Ketogenic diet was difficult for some patients to put up with, as it requires careful assessing weights of ingredients and was difficult to be used with older epilepsy patients. The MAD (Modified Atkins Diet) is a different version of the original Atkins Diet with a lower limit on the quantity of carbs than the Atkins diet and is not as difficult as Ketogenic diet to tolerate.
In a study of 8 patients with JME, after one month following the modified Atkins diet, 6 of the 8 people showed a 50 percent reduction of seizure activity. After 3 more months, the reduction of seizures was stable in 5 of the 8 patients. Both generalized tonic-clonic seizures and myoclonic seizures were reduced. Out of 8 patients, 2 patients showed no signs of seizure activity and became seizure-free.
Though the result of using modified Atkins diet is positive ton control seizure activity in Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy, there are still further studies needed to compare its efficacy and feasibility.
Dietary Therapies vs Anticonvulsants Drugs
Dietary therapies offer epileptic patients less side effects as compared to anticonvulsant medication therapy. For patients with JME, it is very important that the modified Atkins diet prescribed for the juvenile is supervised by an expert dietician for epilepsy patients. Though, it positive results, it still remains as “off the shell” treatment for epilepsy.