Dr. Badi Al Atasi, MD, MPH
Dr. Badi Al Atasi is an experienced pediatrician doctor in Dubai, who has trained and worked in the USA, Canada, Syria, and UAE. He has 15 years of experience in general pediatrics and in neonatology. He completed his residency in Michigan State University, USA and his fellowship in the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, USA.
What are breath holding spells?
They are brief period of breath holding that young children do generally while the child is crying, in pain, upset or frustrated. They can start as early as one month of life and they can last for a long time if encouraged by care givers.
The breath holding spell can look quite scary for the child holds his breath and may change the color of face and around lips to purple and even a shade of blue. The child may continue to hold his breath until he loses consciousness (passes out) and then may have few jerks (seizure) after which the child will regain consciousness and may continue to cry.
What should parent do during the episode?
The parent should ignore the child while still observing him should not rush to pick up the child or try to stop him from doing so if the child loses consciousness the parent should lay the child on his side and wait for him to regain consciousness. If extra attention is given the child may continue to do this for a longer period of time.
Can this be dangerous and when should the parent seek medical advice?
Even though the breath holding spell are self-limiting and not dangerous they can lead to a diagnosis of heart disease nervous system disease or autism. (The breath holding spell does not cause these but may lead to the discovery of these diagnosis as there is an increased associations) so if your child is holding his breath make sure you discuss with your pediatrician so a careful examination is done but if the exam was done and normal then the episodes should be ignored completely.
Remember your kids are very smarts and can be great actors so don’t be misled by them once they have been cleared by their pediatrician ignore the episode and don’t let the child manipulate you to get what he wants by using these episodes.