Scary Breath Holding Spells Turns Kids Blue, Leaves Parents Alarmed

"They are rapidly evolving beings at that point," said Keith-Thomas Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. "Medical problems can be expressed at this time."

Kids Will Grow Out of Bad Behaviors

But Ayoob pointed out that, without a solid underlying problem resulting in BHS, there is little treatment available. In fact, children will grow out of behavioral problems such as BHS as they learn to express themselves in more sophisticated ways.

Briggs noted that, if the problem is purely behavioral, BHS will dissipate quickly if parents do not respond to episodes with attention.

"If you give children lots of positive attention in other ways, it decreases the amount of time they need to look for attention in negative ways," Briggs said. "But if they're in a safe place and not going to fall off a table or chair, then you really just have to ignore it."

Albert said her son is not the type to have tantrums and hold his breath because he is angry, but she is still nervous when he plays.

"It's terrifying to see," she recalled. "But of all the things that it could be, it's lowest on my list of worries now."

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