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Body stiffening, holding breath after crying. Is it some major problem?

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Pediatrician, Neonatology
Practicing since : 1970
Answered : 891 Questions
Recently my daughter is facing some problem, She is just 5 month old and we notice that when she starts crying after some time her entire body become very stiff and mouth will be open , even no movements in her eye and her breath will also in hold. after some time when breath comes back then she becomes normal. This started last week only and once happen in this week also. We are scared about this and feels that she is suffering from any major problem. Please advise on this.
Posted Thu, 25 Apr 2013 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Uma Rajah Ananth 9 hours later
Hi Raj,
Welcome to HCM!

Yes ,this is a well known condition in pediatrics called crying convulsion or severe breath holding attack.

As these kids cry continuously without taking a breath,they get brief hypoxia( low oxygen) and turn blue ,quiet and sometimes go for a fit.

Usually this happens as part of temper tantrums and kids get over this by 4-6 years.

You have to try the following.

This Being a very small kid,

1- when she starts crying,pick her up immediately and console her.
2 try to avoid the situations when these are triggered.( even though practically it is difficult)
3 when this happens ,put a slightly cold cloth over the forehead .
4 Normally , these kids do not have brain injury or epilepsy.

5 Go to a pediatric neurologist in your place and get one comprehensive evaluation.( even though majority are completely normal!)

6.Get her calcium and iron checked up.

7 Try to cut short the situation by holding her in the hands and let there be one caretaker always around to keep a watch on her.

You can get lot of information in the net on this by checking on breath holding spells.
These are scary to see I understand, but usually do not cause residual problems!

Good luck
God bless
Dr Uma
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