The Most Common Seizure in Children You’ll Probably Miss

child resting head on deskWhen you think of seizures in children, your mind may instantly go to dramatic images portrayed in television and movies. These types of seizures, called generalized tonic-clonic seizures, do occur in some children. However, a very different, very common type of seizure could happen right in front of you and you probably wouldn’t notice.

Absence seizures account for about 10 percent of all seizures in children, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. These seizures are characterized by staring off into space and brief moments of unresponsiveness. Sometimes, absence seizures in a child can go undetected for months.

What Is an Absence Seizure?

Absence seizures cause short periods of “blanking out” in children, sometimes lasting only seconds. They typically only cause a loss of awareness along with some slight twitching or blinking.

Absence seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity on both sides of a child’s brain, causing brief lapses in awareness.

These seizures are classified as generalized onset seizures. That is, they affect both sides of the brain at the same time. The exact cause for these types of seizures still isn’t fully understood. However, genetic factors are believed to be the main cause. Absence seizures often stop by the time the child reaches puberty.

What You Should Know About Absence Seizures

An absence seizure can occur at any time, often without warning. Children who have been diagnosed with absence seizures should take care to prevent accidents and injuries that could occur when do potentially dangerous activities such as climbing or swimming.

Adult supervision is even more important for children who experience seizures. If your child experiences any type of seizure, you should make sure the staff at your child’s school, daycare or camp know what to look for and what to do if a seizure occurs.