Breath-holding spells are episodes of brief, involuntary
cessations of breathing that occur in children in response
to stimuli such as fear or injury. They are usually benign,
and although very rarely, breath-holding spells accompany
deteriorative neurological diseases.
Here, we present two patients having infantile neuroaxonal
dystrophy and breath-holding spells. Presence of the
common respiratory problems in children with neurological
disabilities may predispose the child with breath-holding
spells and infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy to a danger of
prolonged apnea and may be to a life-threatening event.
Careful discrimination of breath-holding spells from
true epileptic seizures need special emphasis, since acute
delivery of antiepileptic drugs such as phenobarbitone
or benzodiazepines may have further disturbing effects
on respiration. It should be kept in mind that not every
tonic or clonic movements are epileptic, and benign nonepileptic
fits such as breath-holding spells may also coexist
in progressively deteriorating childhood disorders
including infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy.