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How to handle my nephew's breath holding spells?

Q: My two-year-old nephew suffers from a breathing problem since birth. Whenever he cries bitterly, his breathing stops for a while and his face turns blue, just like when someone chokes due to excessive emotions. How serious is this? How can this problem be resolved? What preventive measures can be taken? Are there any remedies to ensure that the child starts breathing soon?

A:The child suffers from breath holding spells, also called cyanotic breath holding spells. This is a benign condition and will resolve by the time he reaches his third birthday. Children benefit by iron supplements-hence get his haemoglobin tested. If it is low, your doctor will prescribe iron supplements. During the attack, don't lift your child; keep him in a horizontal position on the bed with his head turned to one side - he will start breathing again. I would reassure you that breath holding spells are not epileptic, so no expensive tests are required.


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