The National Parenting Center

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Breath Holding Episodes

The first time your baby holds her breath may scare you out of your wits, but these episodes are harmless – they never damage your baby in any way and are not related to epilepsy. The usual story is that of a baby who starts crying loudly and suddenly starts holding her breath. She may turn pale, or blue, or even stiff. If the breath holding lasts long enough, she may actually pass out. But immediately after losing consciousness the baby always starts to breathe on her own. Normal color returns and all is well. Babies between six and eighteen months are most frequently affected. There is no way for you to prevent these episodes. If your baby holds her breath, stay calm and do nothing. The more you do, the more likely these episodes will continue. Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate breath holding from true epilepsy. Your doctor will be the one to make the correct diagnosis.

Dr. Alvin Eden is chairman of the department of pediatrics at Wyckoff Heights Hospital in Brooklyn and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Cornell University Medical Center. Dr. Eden has authored several books including “Positive Parenting” and “Healthy Kids”.

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