February 10, 2010

Breath Holding Spells

The first time I ever heard of breath holding spells was when Smiley Boy went to the ER last year.

One evening he got upset, started crying, wouldn't take a breath, turned blue and limp, and lost consciousness for a few seconds.

Needless to say it was a terrifying experience, and after an hour or so in the Emergency Room, the ER physician told us it appeared he had a breath holding spell.

I had never heard of breath holding spells before (neither had any of my friends), but when I came home and researched it online, I discovered many babies and kids experience breath holding spells.

Since that first spell, Smiley Boy has had several more. We try our best to prevent them, and usually if he does have one he'll get out of it pretty quickly. On occasion it'll be a really frightening spell (they're all frightening, but some more than others), and he'll end up just falling asleep in my arms because the spell took so much out of him.

Well, he recently had another spell, but this time it was really bad--so bad that he ended up twitching and appeared to have a seizure for about two minutes.

After another trip to the ER and a meeting with a pediatric neurologist, as well as discussing with Smiley Boy's pediatrician the events that transpired, we were advised that although it appears his seizure was due to the breath holding spell (and all kinds of literature state that seizures are possible), that Smiley Boy should get an EEG done "for peace of mind."

Right now my only concern is that he'd have to be sedated.

As I write this I'm still awaiting a call from the hospital to find out what dates are available to schedule one.

Although everything I've read about breath holding spells says they don't hurt the child, it's simply terrifying for us.

I've come across one person via Twitter who has a son that experienced breath holding spells, and her sharing her experiences with me has been so helpful. Other than her, I personally know of no other parent who has a child who experiences breath holding spells. Although, as I mentioned, after searching online I discovered that many children experience them, not too many people have heard of breath holding spells--even the paramedics that came to treat Smiley Boy!

I'm hoping and praying that once the EEG is scheduled that everything goes well and that the seizure was really due to breath holding spells.

Have you heard of breath holding spells?

Has your child ever had to get an EEG done?

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Cindy said...

All three of my children have done this! The first time, I was scared to death. All the other times, I was only scared half-to-death. My kids turn blue, pass out, and sometimes even have a little seizure. It's horrible, but the doc says to just try to behave like it's a routine thing so the kids won't learn to use the behavior as a tool.

Don't let it make you too crazy, if you can help it. I know a lot of parents will start to avoid upsetting their children to avoid the breath-holding, but that just makes things worse.

My kids (sounds like yours, too) are the type who don't do it intentionally. They just cry so hard they can't breathe and off they go. But I've heard that kids can learn to do this on purpose if it gets them some kind of attention they crave.

I'm sure your son is going to be OK. Hang in there!

ColleenMarie82 said...

My daughter also has breath holding spells. Thankfully she has never had a seizure because of one. Our Pedi told us to ignore them since they are using it as a tool to get our intention.
I don't 100% agree with this. My daughter is 17 months and she started doing it when she was about 5 or 6 months old. Trust me at that time she always had our attention. I do not think she does it intentionally. I usually blow in her face, throw water on her run outside stuff like that to get her to calm down.
It is terrifying, I hope you can find some answers. Please share the outcome I would be interested.

Carrie said...

I've never heard of that- how scary! I hope that the test turns out that nothing is wrong. Let us know what happens!

More than a Mom said...

Neither of my kids have passed out before, but they have turned blue from crying and not breathing. My MIL told me that my hubby used to pass out from holding his breath as a kid, but we didn't know there was an actual term for it.

My son DID get an eeg done several months ago. It was relatively quick and easy. He did not get put under for it. They had a tv in the room and he watched tv while it was being done. He didn't enjoy having the thigns stuck to his head, but he was ok.

Good luck with everything!

Baba said...

Though the kids never had breath holding spells, my daughter did have to have an EEG done after hitting her head on concrete and everything went smoothly. No worries.

Jo said...

Oh my word! I can only imagine your terror during those. My son asleep in my arms a week ago I swear stopped breathing... it's possible he didn't - it's possible he was in a deep sleep and was just breathing shallower and I missed it (I was holding him, is that possible?!) but I stared at his chest for what seemed like entirely too long.. so I jossled him. Then I was nervous and did NOT sleep well that night thinking - what if it happened again?! Scary. I wonder if he had a BH Spell? Or if I was just overdramatizing my son's sleeping and he was totally fine and breathing with no issue.

I hope that EEG shows everything is 100% fine and that these spells tapper off with no further issue!

Kathleen said...

Oh goodness, how terrifying! I wish I had some advice, but this hasn't happened to me. I hope for the best for you, and that he does well with the EKG. I'll be thinking of you.

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