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18 mths - breath holding and passing out

(17 Posts)
Cashncarry Wed 17-May-06 21:58:45

Hi - my DD is nearly 18 mths old and has recently started having breath holding tantrums. They're generally in response to a "no" and she's kind of crying but not breathing in. I've found if I leave her to cry (which I've only done on a couple of occasions) she goes a bit blue and drops to the floor kicking but will eventually start breathing. Anyway, tonight she had another one while she was in her high chair and my DP said to leave her to it. Was a bit worried but did as I was told (!) - she went blue, shook a bit then took a teeny breath and rolled her eyes upwards and appeared to pass out for half a second. My DP took her out of her chair and she was fine - stopped crying and it was as if nothing ever happened. However now I'm absolutely terrified! I've heard about toddlers holding their breath til they pass out but never seen it. Is it normal? Should I call the doctor? If it's normal, how should I handle it? My instinct is to pick her up so that she's not frustrated. Anyone with any experience/tips on how to handle this situation? Advice gratefully received....

stoppinattwo Wed 17-May-06 22:40:42

Wow....... you must get a real fright, my friends DS would hold his breath but never to that extent, he would even make himself vomit . Would distraction work? do you get any signs to when she is about to do it so you can draw her attention? Sorry Ive never experienced this, close to it, but never actually passing out, hope someone can help

supakids Wed 17-May-06 22:48:47

Dont wish to alarm you but take to GP it sounds like a fit. If it is the case you leave her to it just make sure she is safe and she will come through the other end.

When we first saw it, we started slapping her face to get her to breath (not hard). She was soon after diagnosed with epilepsy. Grown out of it now.

PrettyCandles Wed 17-May-06 22:50:25

My first instinct is that picking her up so that she's not frustrated is absolutely the worst thing that you can do. That will simply teach her that this breath-holding tactic works, and you will never be able to exert any sort of discipline.

I think that your DP is right, and that you should show no reaction, even turn your back or leave the room. Any reaction is a reward, in this case. If there is no reward then there is no reason to continue the behaviour, and your dd is likely to stop doing it.

That said, it is obviously a very scarey thing for any parent to see (my dd soemtimes got to the blue stage, but never passed out), and if I were you I would be inclined to set my mind at rest by asking the GP's advice - I don't think that this brief unconsciousness can harm, but it's as well to double-check.

supakids Wed 17-May-06 22:50:27

It would normally start after an emotional upheaval, like being told off or falling over or after crying for a period of time. Something always sparked it off.

PrettyCandles Wed 17-May-06 22:52:43

Supakids, do you mean that your dd's epilepsy was triggered by emotional upset?

PrettyCandles Wed 17-May-06 22:53:01

Sorry, I mean her fits, not the condition.

supakids Wed 17-May-06 22:54:11

The fits were brought on by an incident yes.

SueW Wed 17-May-06 22:54:51

IIRC Christopher Green covers this in one of his books. He says to ignore as nature will take over i.e. they pass out and then the natural bosy response to take in oxygen takes over.

supakids Wed 17-May-06 22:55:03

sorry Prettycandles just a technicality it was my little sister

PrettyCandles Wed 17-May-06 22:55:58

Definitely go to GP then. On the one hand there's the discipline issue, OTOH there's the one in however many for whom there's a medical issue as well.

ghosty Wed 17-May-06 23:03:38

Cashncarry ... when you first described what your DD does "crying but not breathing in" I recognised it as something my DD does. The first time she ever cried properly as a baby (a hurt cry rather than crying for milk or being tired) she struggled to draw breath and it is just the way my DD cries when she is really really upset. It can be triggered by a tantrum or a big fall or if DS does something to upset her.
One trick we have, when she is not breathing, is to blow in her face ... a nanny friend of mine gave me that tip - when she is in full flow and crying without breathing, when you are willing her to take a breath just gently blow in her face (as if you were blowing out candles) ... I am not sure why but DD always takes a breath after that.
I agree with PrettyCandles in that if you make a big thing of it she will work out that holding her breath gets results and she will start doing it on purpose ...
Of course, if you are worried - take her to the doctor

neolara Wed 17-May-06 23:42:17

When I was a toddler I used to hold my breath until I fainted. My mum asked the doctor what to do and he said to ignore it as I would just start breathing again automatically. So that's what my parents did.... until I worked out that holding my breath at the top of the stairs got an even better reaction!!! Not sure how they dealt with that, but know it completely freaked them out because they still talk about it now. Now I've got a toddler I would absolutely HATE it if she did the same to me. It must be very scary for you and I don't really have any advice. I suppose I just wanted to let you know that I don't think it's that uncommon and the fainting doesn't necessarily happen because there is a neurological problem such as epilepsy.

butterflymum Wed 17-May-06 23:43:00

Although it may not apply to your daughter (especially as she seems to turn blue not white), Cashncarry, I thought it may be helpful for others looking in on this post who also have babies/children who are apparently breatholding, to perhaps consider the possibility of a condition known as Reflex Anoxic Seizure (RAS).

Our middle son suffered from this from birth onwards (he last had an episode almost a year ago when he was 5, so we are hopeful they are coming to a natural end but remain aware that they can continue into adulthood).

His episodes always followed something such as an unexpected pain, shock, fright or, more rarely, extreme excitement.

Details of the condition can be found on the Syncope Trust And Reflex anoxic Seizures website (STARS) .


butterfly )i(

ThePrisoner Thu 18-May-06 00:22:14

Apparently, I used to hold my breath until I passed out - my mum said it was scary to watch, but I would start breathing once I'd passed out!! She was advised to put my head under a running tap, but said she didn't!

I finally grew out of it ... when I was 9!!!

Cashncarry Thu 18-May-06 08:35:28

Just logged on again and found all these messages. Thanks so much guys! It's really helpful. I'm at work now but I'm going to ring the Health Visitor and ask her if she should be checked over. Don't want to make a big deal but want to rule out any medical reason so that I can get on with the business of finding a coping strategy that works. Thanks again. I might be back on if I don't get any joy!

wannaBe1974 Thu 18-May-06 18:09:50

I have a cousin who did this as a child. My mother frequently talks about it as he was a little shit, lol. He would hold his breath, then he would go blue, his eyes would roll back and he would then pass out. My aunt was so worried that she went to the gp who said that "no child has ever died from holding its breath". from then on she ignored it, the natural thing is that if you pass out you automatically draw breath.

TBH the fact your dd was ok the instant you picked her up doesn't sound like she was having a fit, but I do imagine it must be a horrible experience

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