Effectiveness of iron therapy on breath-holding spells

J Pediatr. 1997 Apr;130(4):547-50. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(97)70237-3.


Objective: The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of iron therapy on breath-holding spells (BHS).

Methodology: Sixty-seven children with BHS were enrolled in a clinical trial to evaluate the effect of iron therapy on BHS. At the beginning of therapy, the clinical, laboratory, and demographic characteristics of the patients in the treatment group (n = 33) and placebo group (n = 34) were comparable. Patients were assessed weekly for the first 8 weeks and then every 2 weeks for the next 8 weeks. Response to therapy was assessed by the change in the frequency of BHS.

Results: Children treated with iron showed significant reduction in the frequency of BHS (88%) compared with the frequency (6%) in the placebo group. As expected, the treated group showed a significant improvement of a number of blood indexes compared with the placebo group. Baseline mean levels of hemoglobin and total iron binding capacity were predictive of a favorable response to iron treatment.

Conclusion: Results of this study indicate that iron therapy is effective in the treatment of BHS and that iron-deficient children seem to be more likely to benefit from such therapy. Response to iron therapy was strongly correlated with improvement in blood indexes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Apnea / blood
  • Apnea / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Erythrocyte Indices
  • Female
  • Ferrous Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Iron / blood
  • Male


  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Hemoglobins
  • ferrous sulfate
  • Iron