What to do if your child has a breath-holding spell

If your child has a blue breath-holding spell or reflex anoxic seizure, you should:

  • stay calm it should pass in less than a minute
  • lie them on their side don't pick them up
  • keep an eye on them until the spell ends
  • make sure they can't hit their head, arms or legs on anything if they start to jerk, gently cushion their head, arms or legs to prevent injury
  • avoid shaking or hitting them
  • avoid putting anything in their mouth including your fingers
  • avoid splashing them with water
  • avoid mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

You don't need to try to help your child breathe or help their heart beat. They'll start breathing on their own, and their heart will return to a normal rhythm on its own after the episode or seizure has finished this is usually in less than a minute. Afterwards, they may cry or scream.

Reassure your child and make sure they get plenty of rest after having ablue breath-holding spell or reflex anoxic seizure. Act as if nothing has happened and avoid making a fuss don't punish or reward them.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018