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Int J Psychiatry Med. 2008;38(2):195-201.

Piracetam in severe breath holding spells.

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The Children's Hospital, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Islamabad.



Breath holding spells (BHS) are apparently frightening events occurring in otherwise healthy children. Generally, no medical treatment is recommended and parental reassurance is believed to be enough, however, severe BHS can be very stressful for the parents and a pharmacological agent may be desired in some of these children.


In this prospective study aim was to determine the usefulness of piracetam as prophylactic treatment for severe BHS.


Children were recruited from Neurology Clinic in Children's Hospital, Islamabad between January 2002 to December 2004. Diagnosis of BHS was based on characteristic history and normal physical examination. Piracetam was prescribed to those children who were diagnosed as severe BHS in a dose ranging from 50-100 mg/kg/day. Iron supplements were added if hemoglobin was less than 10 gm%. Patients were seen at 2-4 weeks interval and follow-up was continued until 3 months after the cessation of drug therapy.


Fifty-two children were enrolled in the study, 34 boys and 18 girls. Ages ranged from 4 weeks to 5 years with mean age of 17 months. In 81% of children, spells disappeared completely and in 9% frequency was reduced to less than one per month and of much lesser intensity. Prophylaxis was given for 3-6 months (mean 5) duration.


Piracetam is an effective prophylactic treatment for severe BHS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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