Sobbing Spasms: What Are They And How To Act

Sobbing spasms are a rare disorder in children, but when they appear, they often worry parents a lot. As the name suggests, it is a spasm, which may or may not be accompanied by sobbing. Children stop breathing for a few seconds and some may even lose consciousness. These spasms generally occur in healthy children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years, although they tend to be more common around the age of 2 and can also occur in newborns. By age 5, most of the little ones have already outgrown them.

Sobbing spasms are often associated with a strong, sharp emotional stimulus, causing the child to hold their breath for a few seconds. It can be triggered by a harsh reprimand, a loud cry, a great fright, or a sudden start. What happens is that when the child reacts to the stimulus with a very intense emotional response, the spasm is triggered. However, this reaction actually lasts a few seconds and does not usually pose any serious risk to your health.

Cyanotic sobbing spasm. In these cases, when the child stops breathing, his face takes on a bluish hue that can become dark blue or purple. They are almost always due to an upset, which makes you hold your breath.

Spasm of pale sob. These spasms are generally less frequent and more difficult to detect since the child turns whitish. Unlike the cyanotic sobbing spasm, in these cases the cause is related to sudden startles as a result of a fright.

Fortunately, sobbing spasms can not only be prevented but can also be treated as some drugs, such as anxiolytics and atropine, can be very effective. However, we tell you what to do when your child suffers from this problem:

  • Check that the child does not have any foreign object in his mouth that could cause suffocation the moment he breathes again.
  • Flip it slightly, to make it easier for it to suck in the air.
  • Give him light blows on the back, to stimulate him to breathe.
  • Immediately ventilate the room to get more oxygen and breathe again.
  • Move away the furniture that is around him and avoid lifting him, this way, in case he suffers a seizure, you will prevent him from hurting himself.
  • Give CPR if the child has not breathed again after a few seconds.
  • Don’t make a big deal out of the sobbing spasm once the child has come to. This will prevent her from using these episodes as a way to get attention or get what she wants.

In fact, although parents are often frightened, sobbing spasms are usually not harmful unless they appear secondary to other health problems such as cardiac arrhythmia, a seizure disorder, or iron deficiency anemia. Therefore, at the first picture of sobbing spasm, it is advisable to go to the doctor, to rule out any underlying clinical condition.