Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment Home Care warning signs Outlook Complications Underlying Cause

Child Breath-Holding Treatment

Treatment is usually not necessary for a breath-holding spell. Most children outgrow these spells by the time they are 6 years old. Since breath-holding spells can be triggered by fear or a traumatic event, avoiding these situations will reduce spells. A parent or caregiver should remain calm before and after a breath-holding spell to minimize impact on the child. The child must be in a safe place during a breath-holding spell, in order to avoid an injury when the child falls.

In some children, holding a cold cloth on the forehead may shorten a breath-holding spell. Even if the child has a brief seizure during a breath-holding spell, antiseizure medications are not required because the child does not have epilepsy.

Rarely, breath-holding spells represent a symptom of a severe underlying inherited disease. In these cases, treatment is directed at the underlying disease.

Continue to Child Breath-Holding Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
Copyright DSHI Systems, Inc. Powered by: FreeMD - Your Virtual Doctor

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]
FreeMD is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for evaluation and treatment by a physician. Please review our terms of use.