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Breath-Holding Spells: Helping Your Child Avoid Injury


Topic Overview

To keep your child safe during a breath-holding spell:

  • Lay your child on the floor on his or her back, facing either upward or to one side.
  • Protect your child's head, arms, and legs from hitting something hard or sharp accidentally.
  • If your child was eating before a spell, open his or her mouth carefully and look for pieces of food, but do not try to remove food with your fingers. Instead, tilt your child's head to the side so the food can come out on its own.
  • Touch and talk to your child. This helps you stay calm.
  • Time the spell with a watch. Spells usually last only a minute but seem longer.
  • Don't start rescue breathing unless your child stops breathing for longer than 1 minute.
  • Do not give your child any medicines during a spell.
  • Allow your child to wake up on his or her own after a spell.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerThomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last RevisedApril 26, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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