Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Child Breath-Holding Overview

Another name for Child Breath-Holding is Breath Holding Spell.

What is a breath holding spell?
During a breath-holding spell, a child holds his or her breath in reaction to anger, frustration, injury or fear. Breath-holding occurs in children between 6 months and 2 years of age. Breath-holding spells that do not result in loss of consciousness are very common: they are considered normal responses to frustration or anger.

What are the symptoms of a breath holding spell?
In a child that is having a breath holding spell his or her skin may first turn red, and then the lips may turn blue. Ultimately, he or she loses consciousness. Within one minute, the child begins to breathe normally, awakens, and becomes alert quickly.

How does the doctor treat a breath holding spell?
Treatment options for a child having a breath holding spell includes medications to prevent spells and a special pacemaker for breath holding spells.

Continue to Child Breath-Holding Symptoms

Last Updated: Oct 27, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Child Breath-Holding References
  1. Kelly AM, Porter CJ, McGoon MD, Espinosa RE, Osborn MJ, Hayes DL. Breath-holding spells associated with significant bradycardia: successful treatment with permanent pacemaker implantation. Pediatrics. 2001 Sep;108(3):698-702. [11533339]
  2. Okada K, Miyako M, Honma S, Wakabayashi Y, Sugihara S, Osawa M. Discharge diagnoses in infants with apparent life-threatening event. Pediatr Int. 2003 Oct;45(5):560-3. [14521532]
  3. Peterson AL, Campise RL, Azrin NH: Behavioral and pharmacological treatments for tic and habit disorders: a review. J Dev Behav Pediatr 1994 Dec; 15(6): 430-41. [7884015]
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