First Time User? Enroll now.
Find Vaccine information, visitor restrictions, and additional resources
Home > 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 child's part.
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 rate.
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: February 10, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
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.