Childhood absence epilepsy is also known as or subsumes Pyknolepsy and Petit mal seizures. -ed.
Childhood absence epilepsy is the prototype genetic generalized epilepsy syndrome of typical absence seizures. It is common and age related, and it affects otherwise normal children. It manifests with severe and frequent (pyknoleptic) absence seizures, around 10 seconds each, many times per day. EEG shows classical generalized 3 Hz spike-and-slow wave discharges. Prognosis of childhood absence epilepsy is excellent if properly diagnosed and treated. In this update, the author details developments in the pathophysiology, genetics, and pharmacological treatment of childhood absence epilepsy. The focus is on the current understanding of its clinical and EEG phenotype, epidemiology, and outcome along with the differential diagnosis associated with other idiopathic/genetic generalized epilepsies involving absence seizures. The author particularly emphasizes that most of the older and newer antiepileptic drugs are contraindicated for the treatment of childhood absence epilepsy.