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Iran J Child Neurol. 2012 Fall;6(4):9-15.

Effects of piracetam on pediatric breath holding spells: a randomized double blind controlled trial.

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Pediatric Neurologist, Assistant Professor, Booali Sina Hospital, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Mazandaran, Iran.
General Practitioner, Education Development Center, Mazandaran University of Medical Scineces, Mazandaran, Iran.
Pediatrician, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Mazandaran, Iran.
Assistant Professor of Pediatric Infectious Disease, Booali Sina Hospital, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Mazandaran, Iran.



Breath holding spells (BHS) are common paroxysmal non-epileptic events in the pediatric population which are very stressfull despite their harmless nature. There has been no specific treatment found for the spells yet. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of piracetam (2-oxo-l-pyrrolidine) on these children.


In this randomized double blind clinical trial study, 150 children with severe BHS referred to our pediatric outpatient service were enrolled from August 2011 to July 2012. The patients were randomized into two equal groups. One received 40mg/kg/day piracetam and the other group received placebo, twice daily. Patients were followed monthly for three months. The number of attacks/month before and after treatment were documented.


Of the enrolled patients, 86 were boys. The mean age of the patients was 17 months (range, 6 to 24 months). In the piracetam group, 1 month after treatment an 81% response to treatment was found. In the placebo group, none of the patients had complete remission and 7% of the cases had partial remission. Overall, control of breath-holding spells was observed in 91% of the patients in the group taking piracetam as compared with 16% in the group taking placebo at the end of the study. There was no significant difference detected between the groups regarding the prevalence of drug side effects.


A significant difference was detected between piracetam and placebo in prevention and controlling BHS. Piracetam (40mg/kg/day) had a good effect on our patients.


Breath-holding spells; Piracetam; Placebo; Treatment


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