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Clinical and genetic aspects of juvenile absence epilepsy


Fifteen patients aged 11–25 years (mean 15.37, SD 3.89) suffering from juvenile absence epilepsy are presented. Only 3 (20%) had absences (AS) as the only seizure type, 12 (80%) had associated generalized tonic-clinic seizures (GTCS) and in the remaining 3 with absences and GTCS there was also sporadic myoclonus. We found a higher frequency of AS in our patients by clinical history and video-EEG than has been previously reported. In our patients the mean age of onset in years was 11.4, SD 1.24 for AS, 13.12, SD 2.31 for GTCS and 12.5, SD 2.18 for myoclonus. The correct diagnosis was not made on referrals for any of the patients. It took an average of 3–5.5 years from the onset of the AS (range: 6–120 months) and 2 years from the occurrence of GTCS (average: 1–72 months) to make the correct diagnosis and institute proper treatment, which was valproic acid (VPA). The GTCS were controlled in all patients whereas AS continued in 6 (40%), but to a significantly lesser degree. The frequency and the duration of the GTCS before the start of VPA treatment seemed to have an adverse effect on AS control. We documented no circadian rhythm in either AS or the GTCS, except in 2 patients who had AS and GTCS mainly when they awoke in the morning. The sample size was too small to perform a proper genetic study, though a positive history of epilepsies of mixed types was obtained in 35.7% of the parents and the siblings of the probands.

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Correspondence to Tahir Obeid.

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Obeid, T. Clinical and genetic aspects of juvenile absence epilepsy. J Neurol 241, 487–491 (1994).

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Key words

  • Juvenile absence epilepsy
  • Valproate
  • Genetics