In Brief

MAE is a disorder of the brain that is still not fully understood but we do know that:

• MAE is a childhood syndrome and often, the condition remits gradually or spontaneously at some stage in childhood. It IS possible to "outgrow" MAE! and/or successfully control the seizures.

• MAE onset commonly occurs between 2 months to 5 years of age.

• MAE affects boys about twice as often as girls.

• MAE usually affects children who have previously developed normally.

• MAE is rare, representing only 1-2% of childhood epilepsies.

• MAE is a type of generalized epilepsy meaning the abnormal electrical activity occurs spontaneously on both sides of the brain and not from a specific focal point.

• The myoclonic-astatic seizure (drop attack or head nod with loss of muscle tone) is the core seizure type associated with MAE, but it is common for children to experience other generalized events including absence, atypical absence, myoclonic, tonic-clonic, episodes of non-convulsive status epilepticus (NCSE) and, in rare cases, tonic seizures.

• MAE is an idiopathic type of epilepsy meaning there is no known cause for the disorder. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the brain of a child with MAE will usually show no structural abnormalities.

• MAE is a genetic disorder so there is sometimes, but not always, a family history of seizures. One in six parents, and one in three other children in the family also have/have had a related form of generalized seizures (for example, common febrile seizures, ie, seizures that occur with a fever or high temperature).