Breath-holding spells are a common childhood disorder that typically present before 12 months of age. Whereas most cases are benign, some patients have very severe cases associated with bradycardia that can progress from asystole to syncope and seizures. Treatment studies have implicated the use of several therapies, such as oral iron, fluoxetine, and pacemaker implantation. This is a retrospective study of patients treated with glycopyrrolate for pallid breath-holding spells. Clinical data from 4 patients referred to pediatric cardiology who saw therapeutic benefit from treatment using glycopyrrolate were reviewed to evaluate for clinical response to the drug. Two twin patients, whose symptoms began at 5 months of age, experienced a decrease in breath-holding frequency after 1 month. A patient diagnosed at 7 months of age experienced a decrease in frequency of spells. A patient diagnosed at 10 months of age reported cessation of syncope shortly after initiation of glycopyrrolate and complete resolution of breath-holding spells during prolonged treatment. This case study of 4 patients with pallid breath-holding offers evidence that glycopyrrolate may be beneficial in treating breath-holding spells and has a safer side-effect profile than pacemaker implantation.

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