Typically, this type of seizure lasts between 10 and 30 seconds. The person, most often a child aged 5 to 15, abruptly stops whatever he's doing (talking, walking) and appears to "stare into space." Absence seizures rarely cause a true convulsion in which the person falls down or collapses. Despite briefly losing consciousness, the person recovers fully with no lingering confusion or other ill effects.
About 10% of seizures in children with epilepsy are typical absence seizures. Annual incidence has been estimated at 0.7 to 4.6/100,000 people in the general population, and 6 to 8/100,000 in children aged 0 to 15 years. Prevalence is 5 to 50/100,000 people in the general population. Similar figures were found in the USA (Connecticut) and in Europe-based (Scandinavia, France) population studies. Age of onset ranges from 3 to 13 years, with a peak at 6 to 7 years.