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Breath holding spells:



This occurs in children starting 1-2 yrs old and usually gone by 4 yr old.  It is where the child is usually hurt physically or emotionally and when crying they hold their breath, turn blue and pass out.  When they pass out they start breathing again and get up OK and the follow up in these children are normal.  It is associated in many children with iron deficiency anemia and when treated with iron the spells stop.  It is quite frightening to the parents and must not be confused with a seizure. 

There also can be a very few children who have a pale episode of passing out without holding their breath and not turning blue.  They are pale and white.  There is a minor head trauma that triggers a brief stopping of the heart with a temporary drop in blood pressure.  There is no crying and not holding their breath. They need to be tested with an ECG to see if they have a short QT Interval Syndrome.  These are not as common.

I recommend iron and vitamins and Zinc to all children at 1 yr old and I hardly ever see this problem.  Give your kids vitamins with iron and zinc the whole time you have them with you ...until 19 yr ...(or 79).

Dr. Knapp