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Why do children have breath holding spells?

Q: My son is 18 months old. He has a habit of crying in only one breath . He starts turning blue while crying since he is not taking any breath and does that for over 15-20 seconds, which is very scary. Can you please help me know why kids do like this, is this common and what is the solution?

A:Your son has breath-holding spells. They commonly occur in the age group of 6 months to 2 years and are sometimes associated with iron deficiency or occasionally calcium deficiency. These spells are observed when a child starts crying suddenly and holds the breath during the first breath. Avoid these situations and if the child holds the breath try to stimulate the child to breathe by pinching the back. Don't panic most often these settle over a period of time. See your pediatrician for dietary counselling and iron supplementation, if required.

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