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Why did my child become breathless and lose consciousness?

Q: My 2-year-old son has suffered a second episode of breathlessness and loss of consciousness. The first episode occurred 4 months ago, when he suddenly lost consciousness and seemed to have stopped breathing for sometime. His eyes rolled inside and he turned greenish blue at his lips and fingernails. The same thing happened again a few days ago. Though the attack was less severe and he responded after some time. He is otherwise a normal and playful child with no symptoms of what happened in those moments. His EEG and 2D echo tests after the first episode were normal. It was termed as 'breath holding spell' by the doctor. Now they suspect it to be fits and have advised to repeat the EEG. Is EEG enough for diagnosis? Should I get a CT scan or MRI done? Is this epilepsy, can it be controlled? Please advise.

A:In a typical breath holding spell, a child would suddenly hold his breath for a few seconds, that is, he would stop breathing. These episodes are usually preceded by any event that may upset the child, for example, not getting the toy he wants, The child may start crying, and while crying, stops breathing and turns blue. In some cases, they may also have uprolling of eyes. Sometimes sudden fear, fall / hurt may also precipitate these attacks. These episodes are self limiting, & though often frightening to witness, are harmless. They however tend to recur in children who get them. Invariably, these attacks subside by 4-5 years of age, leaving no long term effects on the child. A careful history by a physician can usually differentiate the breath holding spells from fits. However, in some cases EEG and other investigations may be needed to be sure. If your doctor feels sure that the episodes your child had are breath holding spells and an EEG has also been reported normal, no further investigations are needed.

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