Send to

Choose Destination
Cardiol Young. 2018 Jul;28(7):922-927. doi: 10.1017/S1047951118000458. Epub 2018 May 11.

Efficacy of treatment with belladonna in children with severe pallid breath-holding spells.

Author information

1Pediatric Department and Pediatric Cardiology Departments,St. Luc Hospital,Brussels,Belgium.
2Pediatric Department,Centre Hospitalier Chrétien,Liege,Belgium.


IntroductionPallid breath-holding spells are common and dramatic forms of recurrent syncope in infancy. They are very stressful despite their harmless nature and sometimes require treatment.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of belladonna in severe breath-holding spells.


This is a multicentric, retrospective series involving 84 children with severe pallid breath-holding spells. Inclusion criteria were >1 pallid breath-holding spell with loss of consciousness, paediatric cardiology evaluation, and follow-up >6 months. In total, 45 patients received belladonna and 39 patients did not receive treatment, according to physician preference.


Mean age was 11 months, ranging from 4 to 18 months, with 54% of males. Mean spell duration was 30 seconds (interquartile range 15, 60), and the frequency was four episodes per month (interquartile range 0.5, 6.5). Comparison of baseline characteristics between groups showed similar demographics, with the single difference in the severity of the spells, being more severe in the treated group. When comparing the treated and non-treated groups at 3 months, only two (5%) patients had a complete remission in the first group, whereas 20 (44%) had remission in the belladonna group (p<0.01). When considering the characteristics of the spells before and after the initiation of treatment with belladonna, 75% of the patients presented a positive response, with 44% of the patients presenting with complete resolution of the spells (p<0.01). No major adverse reaction was reported, with only 5% minor adverse events.


Belladonna is highly effective to alleviate severe breath-holding spells in young children, without any major adverse effects.


Breath-holding spells; atropine; belladonna; syncope; treatment

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Cambridge University Press
Loading ...
Support Center