An internationally accepted system of classification separates seizures into two groups - "generalised" and "partial" (also called focal). The seizures associated with MAE are generalised. Generalised seizures affect the whole brain instantly, not just one part, and they alter consciousness. There is no warning.
Seizure types seen in MAE
Myoclonic and/or myoclonic-astatic - 100%
Absences - 62%
Febrile convulsions (with fever) - 28%
Generalised tonic-clonic - 75%
- at onset - 34%
- during course - 41%
Non-convulsive status epilepticus - 30%
Generalised seizures come in two sizes; large and small or convulsive and non-convulsive. Non-convulsive refers to alterations of consciousness without jerking movements. Convulsive means that there are muscle movements like jerking or stiffening.
MAE is a complex seizure disorder that presents as a mixed bag of the generalised seizure types. The myoclonic-astatic seizure (also called drop seizure or drop attack) is the core seizure type associated. All children with MAE will experience either myoclonic or myoclonic-astatic seizures - or both - but it is common for them to experience other generalised events including absence, atypical absence, myoclonic, tonic-clonic, episodes of non-convulsive status epilepticus (NCSE) and, in rare cases, tonic seizures.¨
Myoclonic-astatic Seizures (atonic or drop attack)
Absence Seizures (formerly petit mal)
Tonic-Clonic Seizures (formerly grand mal)
Non-convulsive status epilepticus (NCSE)
Atypical Absence Seizures