Petit Mal Seizures

Petit mal seizures, now termed as absence seizures are very brief lapses in consciousness. This French term is translated as “little illness”. It is a form of epilepsy which may often appear as a staring spell which lasts for around 10 to 30 seconds and may go together with blinking or mouth twitching. Absence seizures may begin to manifest from age four to 15. The cause is still unclear but some experts think that genetics may be a factor. The diagnosis may be confirmed through an electroencephalograph (EEG) which shows abnormal patterns of brain activity. Anti-seizure medications may be prescribed to deal with the symptoms. Most children outgrow the seizures when they become teenagers.

For instance, a 5-year-old boy with this condition may appear as if he is simply staring off vacantly for 15 seconds. He was telling a story and then he suddenly stopped and looked as if he was staring into space. His mother has been calling him but he has not been responding. After the seizure, the boy has no memory of the incident and was not aware that his mother has been talking to him.

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