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What causes excessive crying with altered sensorium and cessation of breathing in children?

Answered by
Dr. Pradeep Kumar

Pediatrician, Cardiology

Practicing since :2006

Answered : 1931 Questions

Posted on Thu, 30 Mar 2017 in Child Health
Question: My son 15 months.
When he cries more, he becomes like semi unconscious, he does not respond and becomes completely silent for one or two minutes, after that again he starts crying.
I am worried what might be the reason. This happened third time.
Answered by Dr. Pradeep Kumar 41 minutes later
Brief Answer:
This may be Breath holding spell, Nothing to worry much

Detailed Answer:

Thanks for choosing this platform

Excessive crying followed by brief period of altered sensorium and cessation of breathing in this age is most likely due to breath holding spell.
Here there is no after effect and child behaves absolutely normal.
Anger,frustration or pain causes excessive crying and then cessation of breathing for brief period.Sometimes child gets blue or pale during the episode.More common in age group 6-18 months and no specific treatment is needed as the child himself outgrow over a period of time and it is very rare after 5 years of age.
Here special precaution is needed to not put anything in mouth during the attack and if persists for longer period immediate medical help should be taken.
I won't get overly worried as there is no long term neurological effect is seen in this condition and it improves on its own.
Few conditions like seizure or some cardiac condition can mimic breath holding spell.
I request you to make a video clip of the attsck if it recurs and show it to your pediatrician for better evaluation.
Sometimes anemia precipitates the attack so please consult a pediatrician for physical examination and get a hemoglobin and iron profile done as iron therapy helps in this condition.
I hope this helps.
Please let me know if you have any more query.
wishing for your baby's good health.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Yogesh D

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