Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Absence Epilepsy

  • Jeffrey B. TitusEmail author
  • Hayley Loblein
  • Dave Clarke
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1504


Childhood absence epilepsy; Juvenile absence epilepsy; Petit mal epilepsy


Childhood and juvenile absence epilepsy are forms of idiopathic (genetic) generalized epilepsy that are characterized by seizures that involve sudden arrest in activity, awareness, and responsiveness, and may include some mild motor features. Typical absence seizures usually last less than 20 s and end as abruptly as they start. Patients have no recollection of the event and often return immediately to their previous activity with little or no postictal alterations in functioning. Generalized 3 Hz spike-and-wave discharges on EEG are required for the diagnosis and are strongly correlated with the clinical events.


  • Childhood absence epilepsy (CAE)

  • Juvenile absence epilepsy (JAE)


The incidence of CAE is estimated at 6–8% per 100,000 in children younger than 15 years, and the estimated prevalence is 10–12% in children younger than 16 years with epilepsy. The incidence...

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References and Readings

  1. Berkovic, S. F., & Benbadis, S. (2001). Childhood and juvenile absence epilepsy. In E. Wyllie (Ed.), The treatment of epilepsy: Principles and practice (3rd ed., pp. 485–490). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.Google Scholar
  2. Caplan, R., Siddarth, P., Stahl, L., Lanphier, E., Vona, P., Gurbani, S., et al. (2008). Childhood absence epilepsy: Behavioral, cognitive, and linguistic comorbidities. Epilepsia, 49(11), 1838–1846.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Holtkamp, M. (2017). Genetic generalized epilepsies with adolescent onset. In J. M. Pellock, D. R. Nordli Jr., R. Sankar, & J. W. Wheless (Eds.), Pellock’s pediatric epilepsy: Diagnosis and therapy (4th ed., pp. 337–346).Google Scholar
  4. Masur, D., Shinnar, S., Cnaan, A., Shinnar, R. C., Clark, P., Wang, J., Weiss, E. F., Hirtz, D. G., Glauser, T. A., & Childhood Absence Epilepsy Study Group. (2013). Pretreatment cognitive deficits and treatment effects on attention in childhood absence epilepsy. Neurology, 81, 1572–1580.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Pearl, P. L., & Holmes, G. L. (2017). Childhood absence epilepsy. In J. M. Pellock, D. R. Nordli Jr., R. Sankar, & J. W. Wheless (Eds.), Pellock’s pediatric epilepsy: Diagnosis and therapy, (4th ed) pp. 309–336).Google Scholar
  6. Schwartz, J. K., & Titus, J. B. (2015). Executive functioning and behavioral profiles in childhood absence epilepsy and juvenile myoclonic epilepsy [Abstract]. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 21(s1), 87–88.Google Scholar
  7. Verrotti, A., Matricardi, S., Rinaldi, V. E., Prezioso, G., & Coppola, G. (2015). Neuropsychological impairment in childhood absence epilepsy: Review of the literature. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 359(1–2), 59–66.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey B. Titus
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Hayley Loblein
    • 3
  • Dave Clarke
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Comprehensive Epilepsy ProgramDell Children’s Medical Center of Central TexasAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.Department of Educational PsychologyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsDell Medical School, The University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA