Breath holding (also known as hysterical laryngospasm, rage spasm, and inspiratory apnea) is a condition not infrequently observed in early childhood. At first glance one would be led to believe that the attacks are manifestations of spasmophilia or tetany with the associated laryngismus stridulus, but on closer investigation it will be discovered that such assumptions are erroneous. The breath holding attacks, as distinguished from laryngismus stridulus, manifest no true laryngeal spasm. The breathing stops suddenly in the midst of a crying attack, but there is no inspiratory spasm.
The attack may be briefly described as follows: The child works himself into a rage, cries for a time, and then suddenly stops, finding it impossible, for a brief period, to make any further sound. The inspiratory muscles remain in a tonic state. The child throws himself about and becomes cyanotic or pale. Then the body becomes rigid and the eyes turn
ABT IA. BREATH HOLDING IN INFANTS. Am J Dis Child. 1918;16(2):118-122. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1918.01910140057006