May also be called: Absence Seizure
Petit mal seizures affect children more than adults and may be associated with other types of seizures.
There is no known cause for petit mal seizures, but they do tend to run in families. Like all seizures, they're the result of abnormal electrical or chemical activity in the brain. Hyperventilation or flashing lights may be triggers, but there may be no such identifiable triggers.
Petit mal seizures happen without warning, usually last less than 15 seconds, and can occur multiple times a day. Because they can be misinterpreted as daydreaming or lack of attention, they can be difficult to diagnose. They can be very disruptive to a student's learning in the classroom and dangerous during certain activities like swimming.
In addition to a sudden stop in movement and awareness, people who experience a petit mal seizure may make chewing motions, flutter their eyelids, smack their lips, or fumble with their hands. Following the seizure, the person will immediately return to an alert state and have no memory of the episode.
While petit mal seizures can be disturbing, many anti-seizure medications are available to significantly reduce the occurrence of seizures or even eliminate them. In addition, many kids outgrow these seizures as they reach adulthood.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) NINDS offers research information related to neurological disorders.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Epilepsy Foundation Epilepsy Foundation has information on books, pamphlets, videos, and educational programs about seizure disorders. Call: (800) EFA-1000|
|Seizures Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Find out what you need to know about seizures and what to do if your child has one.|
|Brain and Nervous System The brain controls everything we do, and is often likened to the central computer within a vast, complicated communication network, working at lightning speed.|
|Babysitting: Dealing With Seizures What should you do if a child you're babysitting has a seizure? Our tip sheet can help you be prepared.|
|Epilepsy It comes from a Greek word meaning "to hold or seize," and seizures are what happen to people with epilepsy. Learn more about epilepsy in this article written just for kids.|
|Epilepsy Epilepsy causes electrical signals in the brain to misfire, which can lead to multiple seizures over a period of time. Anyone can get epilepsy at any age, but the majority of new diagnoses are in kids.|
|A to Z: Seizure, Grand Mal A grand mal seizure is a sudden attack that brings on intense muscle spasms and loss of consciousness. It is caused by abnormal brain activity and affects the entire body.|
|Epilepsy Seizures are a common symptom of epilepsy, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Learn all about epilepsy, including what to do if you see someone having a seizure.|
|I Get Seizures But Tests Show I'm OK. What's Going On? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Word! Seizure You might hear a seizure called a convulsion, fit, or spell.|
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