My child cannot breathe while sleeping: A report of three cases and review

Won Hee Seo, Minkyu Park, So Hee Eun, Seonkyeong Rhie, Dae Jin Song, Kyu Young Chae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Sudden breath-holding episodes during sleep in young children are potentially related to sudden infant death syndrome and other life-threatening events. Additionally, these episodes can negatively affect child's growth and development. Case presentation: Here, we present 3 cases of preschool children with similar paroxysmal nocturnal waking events associated with choking that had different etiologies (nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy, nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux disease, and parasomnia, respectively). Conclusions: It is important to take into consideration the fact that breath spells during sleep can occur as a rare manifestation of parasomnia due to gastroesophageal reflux or as a symptom of nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy. Full video electroencephalography, polysomnography, and simultaneous gastric pH monitoring should be used for the differential diagnosis of sleep-related disorders, such as breath spells, in children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number169
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul 18
Externally publishedYes


  • Breath-holding spell
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Laryngospasm
  • Nocturnal seizure
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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