February 8, 2011

Overview Of Absence Seizures in Children

Posted in Category : Child Health

There are different epileptic seizure types that can be seen in adults as well as children. Some types of epileptic seizures can seem very severe, evoking a lot of concern from parents, whereas other types may seem a bit milder in comparison. One such example of a relatively milder form of epileptic seizures is a childhood absence epilepsy seizure.

What are absence seizures in children?

Also known as petit mal seizures, absence seizures in children can be described as sudden and brief lapses of activity in children. Although these seizures can affect older people too, absence seizures in children are a lot more common. When a child suffers from an absence seizure, it may look like he or she is just staring into space, for a couple of seconds. In spite of the fact that the symptoms of absence seizures in children are quite mild, this condition can be quite dangerous. Children who have a history of absence seizures need to be supervised thoroughly, especially during activities like swimming and bathing or else they could even drown, if they get a sudden attack. This is why the presence of absence seizures in children and teenagers could cause parents to restrict them from certain activities, which could be potentially hazardous. Fortunately, most children outgrow the problem of absence seizure, by the time they are in their teens. However, there are a few cases where the condition persists in people, as they grow, developing into grand mal seizures.


There are certain signs of seizures in children, which include:

  • Staring at one spot, without moving
  • Fluttering eyelids
  • Tiny and rapid movement in both the arms
  • Hand movements
  • Smacking the lips
  • Chewing

In most instances, parents take a while to detect the various absence seizures symptoms, mainly because the bouts are so brief. Children recover completely, within a matter of seconds, without any confusion. However, they have no memory of the seizure. There are some people who could suffer from several absence seizures in a day. This could affect their academic and professional performance, also putting them at a risk for accidents.

However, in case a person shows signs of performing activities without being aware of it, or if a child suffers from prolonged confusion, immediate medical attention is important. Also, if a child’s seizure lasts for more than a few minutes, it is important to consult a doctor immediately.


There is no known cause that leads to absence seizures in children. It is believed that a child could have a genetic predisposition towards them. However, at times, hyperventilating can trigger off an absence seizure in a child. Other seizure types are usually a result of abnormal neuron (nerve cell) activity within the brain.


There are several medicines that can help reduce or even eliminate frequent episodes of absence seizures in children. However, it can be a bit of a challenge to identify the appropriate medication that should be used, along with the correct dosage. Some amount of trial and error could be required for effectively treating this condition. However, in order for the treatment to be effective, the proper drug levels should be maintained in the blood at all times, which is why it is important to take medication at the right time.

Children who are prone to childhood absence epilepsy or any other form of seizure types should wear medical bracelets for identification purposes, along with emergency contact numbers. Adults, who interact with such children on a regular basis, like school teachers, bus drivers, babysitters and so on, should be made aware of what to do in an emergency situation.