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Why does a baby hold breath for a few seconds? Is this normal?

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Pediatrician, Infectious Diseases
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 1528 Questions
My Two week old holds his breath for a couple of seconds while sleeping then starts breathing normal again. Is this common?
Posted Tue, 22 May 2012 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 1 hour later
Hello ,
Thanks for posting your query.
What you have described is a common and normal phenomena in newborn babies called periodic breathing.
When an infant is awake, his or her breathing rate may vary widely, sometimes exceeding 60 breaths per minute, particularly when the little one is excited or following a bout of crying. Newborns will also commonly have periods during which they stop breathing for about 5 to 10 seconds and then start up again on their own. This is known as periodic breathing, which is more likely to occur during sleep and is considered very normal. However, if your infant turns blue or stops breathing for longer stretches of time, it's considered an emergency and you should contact your child's doctor immediately or go to the emergency room.
The term apnoea is used for such cases where the babies fail to breathe for more than 20 secs and in such cases further respiratory and cardiac evaluation of the newborn might be necessary.
So, relax ,as of now the situation doesn't seem worrisome at all.But you may watch out for any new symptoms like apnoea, or cyanosis (blue discolouration) in future.
Hope I have answered your query.
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