Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Breath-Holding Spells
Breath-holding spells are brief periods—usually lasting no longer
than a minute—when a young child stops breathing. These spells usually result
from anger, fear, pain, or frustration and are not a deliberate behavior on the
The two main types of breath-holding spells are cyanotic, caused
by the change in breathing pattern, or pallid, caused by a slowing of the heart
Breath-holding spells are most common in children ages 1 to 3 years. Breath-holding spells are usually not serious and do not
cause permanent damage or affect a child's future health. Most children
gradually outgrow them.
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.