Breath-holding spells in infants as a defense emotional reaction: A case presentation
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Department of Rehabilitation and Orthopedics, Faculty of Medicine, Collegium Medicum, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland
Clinic of Rehabilitation, Provincial Specialist Children’s Hospital, Olsztyn, Poland
Submission date: 2020-01-24
Final revision date: 2020-03-06
Acceptance date: 2020-03-25
Online publication date: 2020-07-11
Publication date: 2020-07-10
Corresponding author
Kamila Julia Regin   

Żołnierska 18A, 10-561 Olsztyn, Poland. Tel.: +4889 539 32 83.
Pol. Ann. Med. 2020;27(2):189-193
Emotional affect in infants can occur without identifying a stimulus and can be based on an automatic reconstruction of a reaction pattern. Nonepileptic paroxysmal disorders, such as breath-holding spells (BHSs), are a frequent pattern of emotional reaction in todlers. Intense development of nervous system is closely connected with both social and emotional development and is influenced by most immediate family environment.

Aim of this work was to present clinical case of a child with respiratory arrest and effects of psychological therapeutic interventions.

Case study:
An 11-month-old child with manifestations of respiratory arrest while crying was examined using the child’s developmental scale in order to determine the child’s developmental resources in psychomotor area. An interview and a neurological examination confirmed the initial diagnosis of BHSs. Psychological tests assesed development of the patient as average/high in relation to a peer group. Therapeutic sessions with parents aimed at implementing positive changes in child’s home environment.

Results and discussion:
Therapeutic psychological interventions resulted in cessation of fits of apnea in the patient. Psychological testing performed 6 months later still described the psychomotor development of the child as average/high in the performance scale. However, important differences in the area of temperamental features were recorded.

(1) Improvement obsereved after implemented psychological indications allows to conclude that BHSs presented by the child were a defense emotional reaction to an unfavourable home environment. (2) Emotional development of a child should be understood in a multifaceted way.

The study was financed from the statutory funds of the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn. The research project ‘Analysis of child’s developmental resources in the period of early childhood’ (code 25.610.001-300). The founding source had no involvement in the preparation of the manuscript or in the collecton, analysis or interpretation of the data.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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