Skip to Content
Breath-holding spells are brief periods—usually lasting no longer
than a minute—when a young child stops breathing. These spells usually result
from anger, fear, pain, or frustration and are not a deliberate behavior on the
The two main types of breath-holding spells are cyanotic, caused
by the change in breathing pattern, or pallid, caused by a slowing of the heart
Breath-holding spells are most common in children ages 1 to 3 years. Breath-holding spells are usually not serious and do not
cause permanent damage or affect a child's future health. Most children
gradually outgrow them.
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
© Copyright 2017 Rush Copley Medical Center • 2000 Ogden Avenue; Aurora, IL 60504
Main: 630-978-6200 • Physician Referral & Information: 630-978-6700 or 866-4COPLEY (866-426-7539)