Childhood Absence Epilepsy

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  • Usually in children between 3 and 10 years old
  • Most around 5-6 years old when the first absence seizure was seen
  • 1 in 15.000-50.000 children
  • Siblings of children with Childhood Absence Epilepsy (CAE) have about a 1 in 10 chance of developing epilepsy.


  • Staring spells during which the child is not aware or responsive
  • Eyes may roll up briefly or the eyes may blink.
  • Sometimes repetitive movements like mouth chewing.
  • Usually the absence last for around 10 seconds and ends abruptly
  • After the seizure the child resumes normal activity
  • Could be provoked by hyperventilation


  • Inter-ictal: Normal posterior rhythm, though with frequent rhythmic posterior delta activity
  • Ictal: Generalized Spike slow wave complex of 3 Hz
  • Hyperventilation triggers an absence seizure in over 80% of children with Childhood Absence Epilepsy.

Childhood absence epilepsy in a 4,5 year old girl, with typical generalized 3 Hz spike wave complexes (source)

Childhood absence epilepsy 4,5 year old girl (source) EEGpedia.png