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JUVENILE ABSENCE EPILEPSY

OVERVIEW

This genetic generalized epilepsy is characterized by absence seizures that are not very frequent in an otherwise normal adolescent or adult. Generalized convulsive seizures typically also occur. With absence seizures in a child aged between 8 and 12 years, a diagnosis of juvenile absence epilepsy or childhood absence epilepsy depends on the frequency of the 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 epilepsy syndrome is characterized by absence seizures that have onset from age 8 to 20 years of age (peak 9-13 years). Less commonly, adolescents may present with generalized convulsive seizures prior to onset of absences. Treatment is usually required for life. Both males and females are affected. Antecedent, birth and neonatal history is normal. Neurological examination and head size are normal. Development and cognition prior to presentation are typically normal. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning difficulties may also occur. A previous history of febrile seizures is seen occasionally.

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