Childhood absence epilepsy is also known as or subsumes Pyknolepsy and Petit mal seizures. -ed.
Childhood absence epilepsy is the prototype idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndrome of typical absence seizures. It is common, genetically determined, age related, and affects otherwise normal children. It manifests with severe and frequent (pyknoleptic) absence seizures of around 10 seconds each for 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, C P Panayiotopoulos MD PhD FRCP, Consultant Emeritus in Clinical Neurophysiology and Epilepsy at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, England, details recent 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 generalized epilepsies involving absence seizures. Dr. Panayiotopoulos particularly emphasizes that most of the older and newer antiepileptic drugs are contraindicated for the treatment of childhood absence epilepsy.