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Involuntary Breathing Spasms - Child
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Involuntary Breathing Spasms - Child

My daughter is 10 mths and 20 lb.  She is normal in every way. However, when she was 4 mths, she had an episode of involuntary gasping in between normal breaths. It lasted 2 min. We assumed they were some sort of hiccups. The sound would best be described as when someone cries/sobs very hard and then tries to stop - it's the sounds they make when they are catching their breath - gasping hiccups and quick breaths.  The sound did not return again until she was 6 mths. This episode lasted an hour. She became very upset while doing it. We rushed her to our pediatrician. They took X-rays of her chest and neck.  No blockages -everything was normal. Our pediatrician had never heard of it before, but said she was breathing through the gasps and she did not change color, so it was not life threatening. During the longer episodes, the sounds will occur randomly, my baby will cry and in between sounds, she breathes/acts normal. Minutes will go by between sounds. My baby did not have another episode until she was 9 mths. This time each episode lasted 2-3 min. once a day for 8 days. We saw an ENT specialist who reviewed the X-rays and put a scope down her throat.  Again - everything normal. The ENT doctor had not heard of this either.  She suggested it may be reflux of some sort, but she has no classic symptoms (spit up, arching, etc.) Her last episode was at 10 mths and lasted 1.5 hours.  We were able to video this time. Episodes happen at random -no common event, time or position. No one seems to know what this is. I don't want to put my baby through unnecessary testing. Any thoughts?
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This is obviously something that is concerning you, but also a condition where basic testing has not determined the cause. From the description you gave, it is hard to know whether these episodes occur when your child is actually having difficulty breathing or not. In other words, when someone sobs (as you described in your note) after crying, they are not doing this because they have any airway obstruction or because they are having difficulty breathing. These individuals do not turn blue, wheeze or have any other distinct respiratory problem. While it is impossible to know what the cause of these episodes is from your description, it is a good start to determine several things (some of which have been done):
1. Do these episodes involve any type of breathing problem? From your description and the examinations and tests performed, it does not sound like this.
2. Do these episodes have any negative impact on your child when they are occurring? Do they inhibit activity, feeding, sleep etc?
3. Is there a pattern to the timing of the episodes (with feeding, after crying a lot etc)?
4. What are other systems that might cause these episodes and should they be investigated? This is the hard question. This is the question that number two and a good discussion with your pediatrician will help answer.
Good luck
3 Comments
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My three year old daughter has this exact same problem. We are beginning to investigate it with out family daoctor, and he is stumped as to what type of specialist to refer her. Did you ever find the cause of these spasms. I would really love to hear more. Suzanne (***@****)
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Avatar_n_tn
My three year old daughter has this exact same problem. We are beginning to investigate it with out family daoctor, and he is stumped as to what type of specialist to refer her. Did you ever find the cause of these spasms. I would really love to hear more. Suzanne (***@****)
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A related discussion, Breathing Spasms If I Cry was started.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi.  My 3 1/2 month old daughter has had this happen about 3 times since she's been born, tonight being the most recent and worst episode yet.  Each time this happens she has just had a hard cry.  She tenses up her face and stops breathing for a second or two and that makes her scared, mad, and uncomfortable (I'm sure), so she just screams harder an harder, making the "spasms" that much worse.  It took over an hour to calm her tonight, and even after she calmed down she was still having these spasms for another 20 minutes or so.  It's very scary and is starting to make we wonder if there is something serious to be worried about.  My husband said we would probably take her to the doctor tomorrow, but I wanted to see if anyone else had any information on this.  Thank you, Sarah  
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Avatar_f_tn
MY 21 month old son done this tonight, he actually started turning blue before I got him to breath and then the spasms started. I have also had this same   episodes to happen to me since I was a child. When I cry hard I have these same symptoms. My husband and all of my friend say they have never been around anyone that does this. If anyone has any info on this please post.
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A related discussion, same problem was started.
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