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. These "spells" may occur infrequently or several times per hour. In children, absence seizures may interfere with learning and are often misinterpreted as daydreaming or inattention. About a quarter of people who have absence seizures will develop another type of generalized seizure called tonic-clonic seizures (formerly called ''grand mal'' seizures).
Based on a solitary study33 which reported an incidence of 49.3 per 100,000, the number of new persons with epilepsy in India each year would be close to half a million. The difference in incidence rates among various studies could largely be related to methodological differences. Incidence peaks in the first few years and in the later years of life, reflecting the multiple etiologies were found at the two extremes.