What are Breath-Holding Spells?
What Causes a Breath-Holding Spell?
What are the Symptoms of a Breath-Holding Spell?
How are Breath-Holding Spells Diagnosed?
How are Breath-Holding Spells Treated?
What are the Complications of a Breath-Holding Spell?
Breath-Holding Spells may occur when a young child involuntarily "holds" his/her
breath, resulting in a blue, gray or pale color of the face and body. It may occasionally
be followed by fainting and a brief period of unconsciousness.
Typically, a child between the ages of 6 months to 6 years will become emotionally
upset, resulting in a prolonged inspiration and a subsequent "holding" of his/her
breath (cyanotic spell). In some circumstances, a child may be surprised, excited,
angered or frightened and may lose consciousness rapidly (pallid spell). It is hypothesized
that the child loses consciousness due to a lack of cerebral blood flow from stimulation
of the vagus nerve.
In addition to the color changes and occasional loss of consciousness, children
may rarely have a brief seizure after they faint. These seizures will resolve on
their own very quickly. Fortunately, the children begin breathing again spontaneously
after they lose consciousness.
These spells are usually diagnosed by history alone. Your health care provider may
choose to evaluate your child's heart with an electrocardiogram (ECG) or look for
an underlying seizure disorder with an electroencephalogram (EEG). There is no relationship
between these spells and epilepsy.
The spells self-resolve as your child gets older. Parents, family members, child
care providers and teachers should be aware of the possibility of a breath-holding
spell. In the event that your child begins to "hold" his/her breath, caretakers
should recognize the possibility of fainting and work to keep the child safe. It
is not recommended that caretakers "give in" to the child's requests or wants just
to avoid a spell. Parents may wish to consult with their health care provider or
a trained therapist to explore effective behavior modification techniques.
Anticonvulsant medications are not effective in this condition. Atropine has been
studied as a potential medication, but the side effects make this medication an
unlikely choice. If your child has gastroesophageal reflux, your health care provider
may choose to treat this condition more aggressively in order to minimize stimulation
of the vagus nerve.
Parents should be taught how to respond and treat a seizure in the event that it
should happen in association with a Breath-Holding Spell. They should activate their
local emergency medical system (e.g. Call 911) if their child loses consciousness
for greater than 1 minute.
These spells will not harm your child as long as proper safety precautions are met
to avoid trauma during a fall to the ground. There are no known long-term effects.
You may want to talk to a therapist if you find yourself avoiding discipline for
fear of inducing a spell.
Schmitt BD. Instructions for Pediatric Patients. Philadelphia: WB Saunders 1992
Avery ME, Pediatric Medicine, Williams and Wilkins, 1989
Reviewed by: Dan Feiten MD
This Article contains the comments, views and opinions of the Author at the time
of its writing and may not necessarily reflect the views of Pediatric Web, Inc.,
its officers, directors, affiliates or agents. No claim is made by Pediatric Web,
the Author, or the Author's medical practice regarding the effectiveness and reliability
of the statements contained herein and such individuals and entities disclaim any
and all liability for the comments and statements contained in this Article and
for any use or misuse of the statements made in this article in any specific medical
situations. Further, this Article is intended to be general in nature and shall
not be considered medical advice. The statements made are not to be utilized to
diagnose and/or treat any individual's medical symptoms. If you or someone you know
has symptoms which you believe are similar to this Article, you should discuss such
symptoms with your personal physician or other qualified medical practitioner.
Copyright 2012 Pediatric Web, Inc., by Dan Feiten, M.D. All Rights Reserved
The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.
By using this website, you accept the information provided herein "AS IS." Neither RemedyConnect nor the providers of the information contained herein will have any liability to you arising out of your use of the information contained herein or make any express or implied warranty regarding the accuracy, content, completeness, reliability, or efficacy of the information contained within this website.
RemedyConnect, Inc. has created this privacy statement in order to demonstrate our firm commitment to your privacy. The following discloses our information gathering and dissemination practices for this website: http://www.remedyconnect.com.
We do not acquire any more information about website visitors than is required by law or is otherwise necessary to provide a high level of service efficiently and securely. Our site's registration form requires users to give us contact information (e.g., their name and e-mail address) and demographic information (e.g., children's birth months, but not birth dates). We use customer contact information from the registration form to (1) send the user pertinent medical and parenting information and (2) allow your local health provider lists of who is registering on that provider's site as a parent/guardian, staff member, doctor, or visitor. Users may opt-out of receiving future mailings; see the choice/opt-out section below.
We use your IP address to help diagnose problems with our server and to administer our Website. Your IP address is used to help identify you and to gather broad demographic information.
Demographic and profile data is also collected at our site. We may use this data to tailor the visitor's experience at our site, showing them content that we think they might be interested in, and displaying the content according to their preferences.
Our site may use order forms to allow users to request information, products, and services.
We will respect your doctor's right to privacy. A doctor typically does not give his/her e-mail address to the parents/guardians of patients. We will not provide the e-mail addresses of doctor(s) in the local practice to users of their site without the doctor(s)' permission. Their site is restricted to use by whomever they wish, and they may deny access to their site to one or more prior users. In unusual cases, doctors may change their private site's access code and arrange for us to e-mail the new access code to approved users.
This site contains links to other sites. RemedyConnect.com is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of such Websites. See Disclaimers.
We will provide individually-identifiable information about website users to third parties only if we are compelled to do so by order of a duly-empowered governmental authority, we have the express permission of the visitor, or it is necessary to process transactions and provide you services from our affiliates: Live Agent Answering Service, Digital Answering Service, Medical Answering Service and Pediatric Answering Service.
This site may make chat rooms, forums, message boards, and/or news groups available to its users. Please remember that any information that is disclosed in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose your personal information.
This site has security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse and alteration of the information under our control. For further information regarding our security, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any concerns regarding the security of information, please do not provide any information to RemedyConnect, Inc. until you are comfortable with our security measures.
You may correct or update your User Registration information at any time, by visiting the User Registration section and providing your personal password that you set at registration. If need be, please email us at email@example.com.
Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving e-mail communications from our partners or us, except communications approved by your doctor's practice office. To so opt-out, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To be removed as a user, please email us at the same address. If need be, you may mail requests to us at RemedyConnect, Inc., 9200 E. Mineral Avenue, Suite 100, Centennial, CO 80112. Our telephone number is 303-793-0703.
If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, or your dealings with this Website, you can contact us by email at email@example.com or by mail at our address above.