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CHILDHOOD ABSENCE EPILEPSY

OVERVIEW

Childhood absence epilepsy is a genetic generalized epilepsy that should be considered in an otherwise normal child with multiple daily absence seizures associated with 2.5 - 3.5 Hz generalized spike-and-wave. Absence seizures are provoked by hyperventilation. Between 8 and 12 years of age the distinction between the clinical syndromes of juvenile absence epilepsy and childhood absence epilepsy depends on the frequency of absence seizures.

NOTE A genetic generalized epilepsy is an epilepsy with generalized seizures associated with generalized epileptiform EEG patterns, such as generalized spike wave activity.

Clinical context

This syndrome is characterized by onset of frequent absence seizures between the ages of 2 to 12 years (peak 5-6 years). Both sexes are equally affected. Antecedent and birth history is normal. A previous history of febrile seizures may occur (seen in 15-20% of cases). Neurological examination and head size are normal. Development and cognition are typically normal. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning difficulty may occur. Seizures are typically self-limiting.

NOTE Self-limiting means having a high likelihood of seizures spontaneously remitting at a predictable age.

CAUTION Onset of absence seizures <4 years right arrow consider glucose transporter disorders.

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