Sometimes, if your baby is holding the breath for nearly one minute, then he or she would face a breath-holding spell, which often make a kid to lose consciousness or pass out. This problem usually happen when your young kid is getting afraid, in pain, frustrated, or angry. However, a breath-holding spell is actually a reflex reaction, not a purposeful one.


The breath-holding spell could happen to kids from 6 months 6 years old, but especially common in the range of 1 to 3 years old. A couple of babies would face this problem each day, and several just suffer from this once in there life. In general, a breath-holding spell is often not serious, which would disappear as time goes by, and does not lead to any lasting hurt.

​Forms of breath-holding spell

​In general, there are 2 main forms of breath-holding spell, including cyanotic (blue) and pallid spell. Several kids might have both forms of spell at the same time.

​It is not often easy to tell the difference between 2 forms of breath-holding spell. The following sections will show you some basic features of them.

​Cyanotic breath-holding spell

Cyanotic breath-holding is the most common form of breath-holding spell. This problem usually happens when your kid is sobbing or crying vigorously, which is caused by fear, anger, frustration or pain.

The kid often cries strongly for about 10 seconds and then turns silent. In this situation, he or she is just able to breathe out, not breathe in.

In addition, you baby would become blue, especially around his or her lips, and even lose the consciousness. It would be usual to most people when their kids have milder attack without the loss of consciousness.

The baby would be stiff or floppy and stay unconscious for about 60 seconds before breathing normally and regaining the consciousness again. After that, he or she might be tired for a short time.

Pallid breath-holding spell

Pallid breath-holding spell is usually caused by a sudden pain or fright, such as falling with a small injury in the head of your kid. In fact, the problem is not triggered this injury, but by his or her sudden pain or fright.

The kid would usually open the mouth as though he or she is crying, but does not make any noise before becoming pale and losing the consciousness.

This problem would often last in one minute. After that, your kid would regain his or her consciousness and look drowsy or confused in a couple of hours.

The pallid breath-holding spell is not voluntary and dangerous, thereby not leading to any damage in the brain or death. As your kid ages, this form of spell would become more frequent and then gradually disappears.

Reasons for breath-holding spell

A breath-holding spell is often caused by the decrease of heart rate in your kid or a change in his or her breathing pattern. In general, those reactions might be happen when you kid is in strong emotion or pain.

In a couple of babies, breath-holding spell might be in relation to a medical condition called iron deficiency anaemia in which the body of your kid does not generate a usual amount of blood cells.

Common symptoms of breath-holding spell

A breath-holding spell would usually lead to:

  • Fainting: this often lasts no more than one minute
  • Seizure, a rigid body, or witching groups of muscle
  • Variations in hear rate and breathing.
    • In the cyanotic spell: Your kid might breathe too hard or too fast. When he or she is breathing out, there would be a long gap before another breath comes.
    • In the pallid spell: Your kid’s might slow down.
  • Variations in the color of skin.
    • In the cyanotic spell: Your kid’s skin might become blue-purple or red, particularly around his or her lips.
    • In the pallid spell: Your kid’s skin might be sweaty and pale.
  • Crying
    • In the cyanotic spell: Your kid would cry intensely in short time
    • In the pallid spell: Your baby would not cry at all or just a single one

How to diagnose a breath-holding spell?

Based on what occurs in a spell, a doctor could often diagnose the breath-holding spell. Moreover, by examining your kid and asking some questions on the situation, the doctor would also help you to record the whole time since your kid suffered.

How to treat breath-holding spell?

In fact, most babies do not need treatment for the breath-holding spell. Instead, it would disappear when they are older. However, if the doctor says that the main reason for this is a medical condition, then your kid might need suitable treatment.

To lower the risks of further spell, always make sure to help your kid have secure feeling and let him or her enough amount of time to rest. Remember to see the doctor if your kid begins to have breath-holding spell so frequently or if it looks different or worse than before.

For most parents, breath-holding spell could be really frustrating and confusing. Therefore, the best way to deal when you do not know what to do with breath-holding spell in your kid is to see a doctor immediately. Always bear in your mind that your kid does not have spell on purpose, but naturally.

What would you do if your kids have breath-holding spell?

To keep your keep safe during a breath-holding spell, you should lay him or her on the ground and keep the head, legs as well as arms from bumping anything sharp or hard.During a spell, your kid might not breathe for nearly one minute. Immediately call a doctor when your kid does not wake up and begin to breathe quickly again.After a spell, make sure to help your child have a secure feeling, do not punish him or her.

Nancy D. Richardson

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