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Breath Holding Spells

Hi, I’m hoping that someone can help me...

My son is almost 9 months old and he has just been diagnosed with ‘breath holding spells’. He has held his breath, when crying, since birth however, it seems to have got worse over the past couple of months. He now holds his breath until he turns blue and passes out. He has started to do it at least 2 or 3 times a day so we went to our GP who has referred us to see a paediatrician however, she told us to call an ambulance each time he turned blue and passed out. We haven’t done so as I feel that this would be a complete waste of time for the ambulance service as once he has finished his episode he is fine. Yesterday however, he held his breath for around 2 minutes, turned blue, passed out then had a seizure. We called an ambulance and went to hospital in which the doctor told us he was experiencing ‘breath holding spells’ and he would grow out of them. She said that his cry is so strong that his heart rate slows down meaning not enough oxygen can get to his brain so he passes out. If he holds his breath for more than 30 seconds he is likely to have a seizure as a result of lack of oxygen. She prescribed us with iron as it could be a result of an iron deficiency and told us that he would have regular check ups in clinic until he grows out of it.

I would like to know if any other mums have experienced this to such a level. He turns blue and passes out at least 2 or 3 times a day and they seem to be getting worse as he is growing stronger. It is not the breath holding that concerns me, it is the seizure. I don’t know if the doctor thought I was over exaggerating but surely seizures are no good for babies full stop? If they are only getting worse does this mean he will have a seizure 2 or 3 times a day? I am epileptic so I am more calm than most but no mother would like to see their child go through this.

Please let me know if you have experienced it in any way.



  • No advice but this sounds so scary! Really hope he grows out of it soon

  • My son has breath holding spells but never passes out from them so I'm probably of not much help. We did get some advice to blow gently on his face to help him 'remember' to take a breath and pat him on the back rhythmically to also help him quite the spell. They work for us so maybe try them?

    I am surprised that you haven't been referred to a paed - due to the fact that you have epilepsy and he is getting seizures. Extreme seizures can cause brain damage so I wouldn't accept the explanations so far. Have you spoken to your GP? I'd refuse to leave until you get a referral - I wouldn't think it's just an iron deficiency. Did the Doc you met last night know about your epilepsy? Have you spoken to your HV? It would be worth making her aware and taking notes of the discussion.

    Best of luck xx

  • Hi,

    We have been referred to a paediatrician but there’s a 6-8 week wait for urgent referrals. Blowing in his face, patting him does nothing. There is nothing that we can do that gets him out of the episode.

    Our GP referred us last week but then he had the seizure on Sunday so we went to a&e. I told them about my epilepsy but it’s not hereditary so it doesnt mean to say he will have it. I have managed to speak to another mum who’s son does the same thing, they tested him for epilepsy and diagnosed him with Reflex Anoxic Seizures but there’s nothing you can do for them. We’ll just have to wait and see what the paediatrician says.

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