Journal of Neurology

, Volume 251, Issue 10, pp 1235–1241 | Cite as

Long-term prognosis for childhood and juvenile absence epilepsy

  • Eugen TrinkaEmail author
  • Sarah Baumgartner
  • Iris Unterberger
  • Josef Unterrainer
  • Gerhard Luef
  • Edda Haberlandt
  • Gerhard Bauer



To analyse prognostic factors for long term seizure remission in patients with childhood (CAE) and juvenile absence epilepsy (JAE).

Study design:

A retrospective analysis of a hospital based prevalence cohort.


The cohort consisted of 163 patients (104 females, 59 males) treated at the Universitätsklinik für Neurologie, Innsbruck between 1970 and 1997. All had absences according to the ILAE classification. Follow up was in 1999 to 2000. We assessed multiple clinical and EEG factors as predictors of outcome and compared a classification according to the predominant pattern of seizure recurrence (pyknoleptic, PA or non pyknoleptic absence, NPA) with the ILAE classification with respect to prognosis.


The mean age at seizure onset was 10.9 years (range, 3 to 27); age at follow up was 36.7 years (range, 13 to 81); duration of follow up was 25.8 years (range, 3 to 69). Sixty four patients (39 %) had CAE and 64 (39 %) JAE, while 35 (22%) had typical absences but could not be clearly defined as either CAE or JAE, and were therefore called “the overlap group”. Patients with JAE or patients in the overlap group developed more often generalized tonic clonic seizures (GTCS) (p<0.001) and myoclonic attacks (p<0.05) during the course of the disease. At follow up 36 (56 %) of patients with CAE, 40 (62%) with JAE and 19 (54 %) of the overlap group were seizure free for at least two years (p=ns). When classified according to the predominant absence pattern at seizure onset 42 (51%) patients with PA and 53 (65%) with NPA were in remission (p=ns). In a stepwise binary logistic regression analysis the pattern of absence (PA or NPA) together with the later development of additional seizure types (myoclonias or GTCS), but not the CAE/JAE classification was predictive for long term lack of remission with a correct prediction of 66% of all patients.


Only 58% of patients with absences were in remission after a long term follow up. CAE and JAE are closely related syndromes with large overlap of the age of onset. A classification according to the predominant seizure pattern at onset, together with later development of myoclonic attacks or GTCS is useful in predicting seizure remission in absence epilepsies.

Key words

childhood absence epilepsy juvenile absence epilepsy absence seizure epilepsy prognosis 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eugen Trinka
    • 3
    Email author
  • Sarah Baumgartner
    • 1
    • 3
  • Iris Unterberger
    • 3
  • Josef Unterrainer
    • 2
  • Gerhard Luef
    • 3
  • Edda Haberlandt
    • 1
  • Gerhard Bauer
    • 3
  1. 1.Universitätsklinik für Kinder und JugendheilkundeInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.Institut für PsychologieUniversität FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.Universitätsklinik für NeurologieMedizinische Universität InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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