BREATH HOLDING………In young kids!!!

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    On sunday 18th of october my son starting crying then stopped breathing went the bluest i have ever seen, then after 1 minute of not breathing his head dropped to the side and he pasted out(i thought he just died), then came to crying- that was the most scariest minute of my hole life i thought my 2 year old son was dead!!!!!
    I brought him to hospital and they did loads of tests and then after keeping him in over night they told me he was in good health and that the hole thing was called "breath holding spell", my son is fine now like nothing as happened but i will never forget that 1 minute that i thought i was watching my little boy die………

    Because that was so scary i looked for more information on it so others will also know what this is if it happens to you.

    Breath-holding spells are perhaps the most frightening of the common, benign behaviors of childhood. Desperate parents often want to splash cold water on the child’s face, start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, or even begin CPR. Thankfully, breath-holding spells resolve spontaneously soon after the child passes out, and unless the fall hurts the child, she will be fine afterwards. The spell usually resolves within 30 to 60 seconds, with the child catching her breath and starting to cry or scream. Sometimes children will have real seizures as part of breath-holding spells, but these brief seizures are not harmful, and there is no increased risk of the child’s developing a seizure disorder. Breath-holding spells occur in about 0.1 to 5% of children, usually between ages 6 months to 6 years old.

    These spells are provoked by the child’s not getting her own way. While they are triggered by a child being angry or surprised, they are thought to be reflexive, not intentional behaviors. Breath-holding is quite rare before 6 months of age. It peaks as children enter the twos, and disappears finally by about age five. The spells occur sporadically, but when they do occur, it is not uncommon for there to be several spells within a single day. Once parents have witnessed one breath-holding spell, they can often predict when another one is about to happen.

    The first time a spell occurs, the parents should have the child examined by a doctor. Because breath-holding spells do share several features in common with seizure disorders, the two are often confused. In epileptic seizures, a child may turn blue, but it will be during or after the seizure, not before. Rarely, other medical conditions may look like breath-holding spells and a visit to the doctor’s will help clarify the situation.

    If your doctor confirms that the event was indeed a breath-holding spell, it is a good idea to check for anemia since there is an association between the two. Treating the anemia, if present, will often decrease the frequency of passing out. The parents’ most important job, however, is to not reinforce the breath-holding behavior — either by bending to the child’s will or by paying more attention to her when she has these spells. Instead, if you are certain she hasn’t choked on something, place her in a safe spot (without giving in to whatever she held her breath to achieve), and ignore her behavior.

    There is another, far less common, type of breath-holding spell, where the child turns deathly pale instead of blue or purple. These pallid spells are involuntary and unpredictable. They are brought on by a sudden startle, such as falling and striking the head. The child stops breathing, goes limp, passes out, and rapidly drains of color. Pallid breath-holding spells also resolve spontaneously. These children should be examined by a doctor, both to confirm the diagnosis, and to prescribe a preventative medicine if the spells are frequent or severe. There is an even less common type of breath-holding spell associated with a rare genetic condition called familial dysautonomia (Riley Day Syndrome); these involuntary spells occur in children who are already acting seriously ill.

    Breath-holding spells shine a brilliant spotlight on one of the biggest challenges of parenting. We do not like to disappoint the little children that we love so much. Moreover, we don’t want to get into yet another battle with our children — in the short run it is always easier to give in to a tantrum than to do what we instinctively feel is best. For parents of breath-holding children, this crucial struggle of parenthood is powerfully amplified.

    Most would expect that a breath-holding spell would be difficult. Most are surprised, however, to find that in many ways, the biggest challenge is life between spells. Parents become timid about setting limits or disappointing their children because of the very real possibility of provoking another spell. For all of us, love consists of having the courage to act in spite of our fear.

    hope this helps someone…..


    Ohhhhhhh, you must have been so scared.
    Wish you the best,


    my god so scary reading that and jesus you must have been really scared…hope ds is ok…

    i have heard of sleep apnia, my big brother suffered from this and my friends son when he was a very young baby, would stop breathing when asleep…again so scary….

    sends shivers up my spine…..

    hope ok and thanks for sharing


    thank you for your messages, he is fine now but i am worried about next time or if there will be a next time.
    It was not a nice thing to go through. 🙁


    My son did this a bit when he was young, scared the life out of me. Sometimes when he cried he would get to upset he would hold his breath and go blue. He never passed out but it still frightened the life out of me.

    I had actually forgotten all about it until I read your post. I have three children now and the girls never did it, it was just my son. Seems so long ago, he has not done it in years (hes 6 now)

    Hope your little one gets past it soon.

    Thanks for posting all this information, it is very helpful.


    This happenned to my 13 1/2 month old only last Thursday night. It really is the most terrifying thing ever. My mum minds my ds when I work but never says no to him for anything – and I really don’t want a spoilt child. When he wanted his own way about something when I was home from work I was telling my mum from another room not to allow him do it. She screamed for me to come in and when I picked him up he was blue and seemingly lifeless. This lasted seconds but felt like an eternity until he breathed again. I was so scared. I used to do this as a child aswell. He was completely fine afterwards but had another episode with me and my dp Friday night. I rang the VHI nurseline after the first time and was assured that this was ‘normal’ and to continue what we were doing and not give in to him as that would only promote the bad behaviour, but in light of your article Lawlesses I think I will bring him to the GP just to be sure there isn’t anything underlying. Thanks for posting this.


    God love you having to go through that, to think he was dying that is just shocking, as Scole said its tramatic reading never mind living it….. Newmomma Im sure your poor mother nearly died, thank god all is well now but I would get him checked over by the gp….. the joys of motherhood 😯

    My sister did this for years, she was even taken into hospital as she had loads of test
    She was spoilt rotten and very very shy, if she didnt get her way she wouldnt scream or shout like the rest of us, she would just hold her breath and pass out….. my mam and dad started to give into her as they didnt want this to happen again but this played up to her and she got worse and worse. Mam went to the gp and he was very stern, he told my parents to ignore her and let her do it, if she see its not working she will stop…… Dont think it took her too long to figure out she wasnt getting her own way.

    Mad what your forget, I forgot his until I read your post


    i wanted other people to be informed as i was not!!
    myself and my other half have not felt the same since sunday!

    Now i am afraid to even let him cry! Tonight he got 4 cookies to keep him from crying! bad mistake as now i know he is going to keep this up!! 😆 the little spoilt boy!!!

    there sould be a handbook when you have kids from birth to adulthood of everything that can happen!! lol…




    my baby boy has done this 2 since my last post… it is so hard to be relaxed and act camly when your child is blue in the face…… my body turns to jelly after he does this!!! am i over reacting or dose someone else experience this????


    Hi lawlesses – my ds has done this twice since my last post too and no your not over reacting – it is the scariest thing in the world. The last time it happenned it wasn’t in temper but after he tripped & banged his head – he just went limp & blue like he does when breath holding. I took him to the GP who checked him out & said he was fine but a friend of mine who is a childrens nurse says to bring him to Temple st straight away next time. I know they grow out of it but that is no consolation at the time.


    ya newmomma my family said to get a second check up too!
    very scary stuff…… i will be grey in no time if he keeps it up… 😆


    My DDhas never done this to me but my mum did tell me i did it as a child. She said i would give her a death stare, squint my eyes, put my hands on my waist and take a deep breath in…and then, pass out! 😈

    She smacked me a couple of times and i eventually woke up

    I did it a few times after that and she took me to the Dr – He told her to put my head under a tap of cold water before I could pass out!!! HE said the shock would stop me.

    Well, mum did it once and dad threw me in the pool (we lived in South Africe) I never did it again. he he he 😆

    Ps, not suggesting you do this, this was back in the day when Dr said to do this – imagine this have advanced since then!!! 😉


    Hi lawlesses,

    I had an appt with the paediatrician in Temple St on Monday about my ds breath holding. He assured us that this was far more common than any one thinks and while really frightening at the time there is no risk of him not re-gaining consciousness or doing any damage. He explained that due to the levels of carbon dioxide in the system the body is forced to take a breath after a certain amount of time. He did a full exam and sent him for an ecg and said everything was fine. He wants to see us back in 3 months. Have to say it has given us peace of mind that he was examined but I know it’ll still be scary if it happens again. He did say not to change our behavior and give into him as he will just play on this and become spoilt.

    Have you had any more episodes with your lo?


    hi newmomma, 2 more times since i post this!!! but not for as long as that scary time!!!
    your lucky they asked you to come back in 3 months… it was "see ya and dont hit your self with the door on the way out" for me!!!
    they tell you that it happen often but that is no peace of mind for us!!! just because they are use to it… we dont have to be 🙁

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