Absence Seizures In Children - Everything You Should Be Aware Of

Absence Seizures In Children

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Are you concerned about your child’s frequent ‘daydreaming’ episodes at school? Has your child begun to suffer from twitching movements that last a few seconds? If you said yes, your child may be suffering from absence seizures. What are absence seizures? Why do they occur? Read our post and learn all about the condition here.

What Are Absence Seizures?

Absence seizures are episodes of sudden consciousness loss with characteristic ‘vacant’ stare spells, which may last for 10-20 seconds. These are more common in children than adults. Usually, children who suffer from absence seizures stop having any seizure episodes during their teen years. But it can last well into their adulthood.

Absence seizures usually begin with children in the ages between 4 to 12 years. Children with absence seizures may also suffer from other seizures, which may involve muscle twitching and weakening of muscles. Absence seizures are also known as petit mal seizures. [1]

Some Facts about Absence S

  • Females are more susceptible to absence seizures even though males are at a greater risk of all other seizures.
  • Children who suffer from febrile seizures (seizures due to fever) are at a higher risk of developing absence seizures.
  • Children most often get seizures when they are bored or not engaged in activities they find enjoyable. Rarely children engaged in fun activities suffer from absence seizures episodes.

[ Read: Causes Of Dementia In Children ]

What Causes Absence Seizures In Children:

Experts believe that absence seizures occur due to abnormalities in the brain’s electrical processes. These irregularities change the electric nerve transmissions and it leads to a repetition of the signals. Absence seizures episodes can also occur due to hyperventilation (fast breathing) or flashing lights.

The basis of absence seizures is hereditary. Most children with absence seizures usually have a family history of the same type of seizure. Children who have siblings with absence seizures have greater chances of developing the condition as well. [2]

Symptoms Of Absence Seizures In Children:

The most common identification sign of absence seizure is the ‘vacant’ stare. Children who suffer from absence seizures may appear to be daydreaming or simply staring into nothingness. Other symptoms include:

  • Children who suffer from absence seizure episodes stop doing any activity they might have been engaged in when the seizures appear.
  • Children who suffer from absence seizure episodes resume these activities again without any knowledge of their seizures.
  • Fluttering of the eyelids.
  • Chewing-like movements
  • Stillness

[ Read: Tourette’s Disorder In Children ]

Types Of Absence Seizures In Children:

There are two categories of absence seizures or petit mal seizures in children. [3]

  • Typical Absence Seizures:

Symptoms of typical absence seizures are fumbling hands, fluttering eyelids and staring spells lasting for about 10 to 20 seconds. For now, the only cause of typical seizures is genetics.

  • Atypical Absence Seizures:

The main difference between the two is that atypical seizures last longer than typical ones. Atypical seizures may also include a confused state after the cessation of the seizures. Atypical seizures begin slowly and not as suddenly as typical seizures. Other than hereditary reasons, atypical seizures may also occur due to injuries or from health complications arising from kidney or liver problems.

[ Read: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder In Kids ]

Diagnosing Absence Seizures In Children:

The symptoms of the seizures give a fair indication of the existence of absence seizures. To confirm the diagnosis doctors may use one or all of the following methods. [4]

  • Electroencephalography (EEG):

For typical seizures, an EEG is adequate for diagnosing the problem. For an accurate diagnosis, doctors may ask patients to breath rapidly to induce absence seizures. The EEG can capture the differences in brain scans as they stand during seizures and in the absence of seizures.

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