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Juvenile Absence Epilepsy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is juvenile absence epilepsy (JAE)?

JAE is a brain disorder that causes your child to have absence seizures. A seizure is an episode of abnormal brain activity. An absence seizure causes your child to stare without being aware of his or her surroundings. This usually lasts for up to 45 seconds. The seizure starts and stops suddenly. Your child then goes back to the activity he or she was doing before the seizure. Your child is not aware that the seizure happened. They often happen during exercise. JAE usually starts between 10 and 12 years of age. It may begin at age 9 or up to age 16. Children usually continue to have the seizures as adults. Most children also develop another type of seizure called a tonic-clonic seizure. This is a seizure that causes convulsions.

What are the signs and symptoms of JAE?

How is JAE diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's health conditions and what medicines he or she takes. Tell the provider when your child's symptoms began. Describe what your child was doing before an episode began and how long it lasted. Your child may also need any of the following:

How is JAE treated?

Medicines will help control the seizures. Your child may need medicine daily to prevent seizures. Do not let your child stop taking his or her medicine unless directed by a healthcare provider.

What can I do to support my child?

What can I do to help manage or prevent my child's seizures?

What do I need to know about stopping my child's medicine?

Your child's healthcare provider can help you understand and make decisions about antiseizure medicines. Your child will need to have no seizures for a period of time, such as 18 to 24 months. Then you and the provider can decide if your child should continue taking the medicine. The provider will lower your child's dose over a certain period of time. Seizures might happen again while your child stops taking the medicine, or after he or she stops. Rarely, these seizures no longer respond to medicines. Tests such as an EEG may be useful in helping you and your child's provider make medicine decisions.

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.