Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) occurs more frequently during early evening and is significantly prevented by prolonged use of the ketogenic diet, research in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome (DS) suggests.
The reasons why this happens are unclear, and should be examined in more depth by future studies, but these findings may be useful to understand why most SUDEP episodes happen at night and how certain diets can benefit epileptics, especially those with Dravet syndrome, researchers say.
Their study, “Time of Day and a Ketogenic Diet Influence Susceptibility to SUDEP in Scn1aR1407X/+ Mice,” was published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology.
Using an established mouse model of Dravet syndrome, the researchers investigated if the time of the day influences the chances of sudden death. They also sought to determine if a ketogenic diet — a high-fat, low-carbohydrate (low-sugar) diet which helps to control seizures in some epileptic patients — can change the frequency of seizures and the rate of mortality.
Mice were continuously recorded on video to monitor for spontaneous seizures and sudden deaths. The recordings showed that SUDEP and spontaneous seizures happened more often during the early evening.