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Severe pallid breath-holding spells (BHSs) are based on parasympathetic hyperactivity, leading to cardiac asystole, pallor, brain ischemia, loss of consciousness, and reflex anoxic seizures. In recent years, an increasing number of patients with severe pallid BHSs have been successfully treated with pacemaker implantation. We present the case of a 13-month-old girl suffering from repeated severe pallid BHSs, causing asystole, loss of consciousness, and generalized anoxic seizures. She underwent treatment with oral glycopyrrolate, an anticholinergic drug, and an oral retard preparation of theophylline. The aim of the treatment was to decrease cardiac inhibition with glycopyrrolate and to bring about a positive chronotropic effect with theophylline. In our case, the combined therapy was effective in suppressing syncope and reflex anoxic seizures associated with BHSs This avoided the need for ventricular pacemaker implantation.


Nicola Carano, Ilaria Bo, Elena Zanetti, Bertrand Tchana, Giulia Barbato, Aldo Agnetti. Glycopyrrolate and theophylline for the treatment of severe pallid breath-holding spells. Pediatrics. 2013 Apr;131(4):e1280-3

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PMID: 23509162

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