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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What is breath-holding?
A breath-holding spell is a transient episode where a toddler turns blue or pale, and appears to be holding their breath.
What are the symptoms of breath-holding?
During a breath-holding spell, a child may: turn blue or become pale; lose consciousness; stop breathing; have a strained expression as if they are crying, although they will make no sound; become limp; faint; sweat; have muscle twitching or body …
What causes breath-holding?
The cause of breath-holding spells is not known; however, most children with breath-holding spells have lower levels of iron in their blood. The significance of this is not known.
How is breath-holding diagnosed?
To diagnose breath-holding, your child may undergo a thorough medical and physical examination to ensure they do not have any underlying medical problems such as a heart condition. Your doctor may ask you about the skin color your child has during …
How is breath-holding treated?
During a breath-holding spell: lie the child on their side and monitor them; check their mouths to ensure they are not choking on an object or food; do not shake them; do not put anything in their mouth or splash water on them, and; keep their arms, legs and …
Can breath-holding be prevented?
Although they cannot be prevented, the occurrence of breath-holding spells may follow a pattern, which may allow you to distract your child before they hold their breath. You may also be able to work with your doctor to come up with better coping strategies …
What is the outlook for breath-holding?
Most children will not experience any long-term harm from breath-holding spells and will grow out of these episodes by the time they reach 6 years of age. The long-term effects for pallid breath-holding spells are isolated to an increased risk of …
Is breath-holding serious?
Most cases of breath-holding aren't associated with any short-term or long-term harm for the child.
About this article
Author: Dr Idan Ben-Barak PhD, MSc, BSc (Med)
First answered: 13 Oct 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.9 out of 5
Votes: 1213 (Click smiley face below to rate)
Category: Childhood immunizations