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A petit mal seizure, or an absence seizure is a staring spell that typically lasts for up to 15 seconds. They are caused by a disturbance to brain function caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Symptoms include staring spells, changes in muscle activity - such as no movement, hand fumbling, lip chewing, eyelid fluttering and chewing, sudden halt in movement, and talking and a lack of awareness of surroundings.