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Epilepsy in children

Q: I have a seven and a half year old daughter. She is generally a very intelligent girl. But sometimes she goes into bouts of dreaming. This lasts for a few seconds to a couple of minutes. She gets lost into a different world for that particular period and is totally oblivious to what happens in her surroundings during that period. Initially we were ignoring it as day dreaming, but now the frequency has increased which is causing us a lot of worry. Sometimes, when she is talking, during the middle of a sentence she goes into this state. When we try to shake her, and try to wake her up, she says she cannot remember what exactly she was thinking during this period. We are very worried. Can you please help?

A:Your daughter seems to be suffering from a type of epileptic seizures called Petit mal or absence seizures. These are mild seizures and are characterised by a temporary loss of consciousness. Thus, the patient may just stare, stop what he/she is doing and not be aware of what others are saying. There may be repeated blinking of the eye accompanied by a sudden loss of awareness. The attack lasts 10-25 seconds and may occur several times a day. Characteristic of this absence is that the patient is not aware that she is going to get an attack and after the attack is quite normal immediately. Absence seizures are treated by drugs like valproic acid and ethosuximide depending on the age of onset of the disease. You need to consult a neurologist immediately who will determine the treatment modality for your daughter.

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