Sleeping child
February 3, 2012 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Child gagged and seemed to stop breathing while sleeping. Has this happened to your child?

If you are here to scold me and tell me you are not a doctor and I shouldn't ask medical questions, please don't.

Here is the situation: 7 year-old girl was sleeping in bed with her mother. She has nightmares and then goes to sleep with her parents. Her father hears her gagging and wakes mom, thinking the girl is vomiting. The mother tried to wake the child but she cannot be roused. The child if floppy. The child stops breathing. The mother, who is a trained paramedic, works on the child and she gasps loudly and starts breathing. (While this is happening the father has called 911.)

At the emergency room, they say the child is fine and she may have had a seizure.

At a follow up with her pediatrician, he says it may be a seizure disorder or sleep apnea. Other possibility is that the child was being suffocated by the bedclothes or by sleeping too close to her mother or severe allergies caused her to have a mucus plug. The child is going for a sleep test in a day.

Everything medically that can be done, is being done. But to ease our minds, has this ever happened to your child or a child you know? What was the cause and outcome?
posted by fifilaru to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not to my child, but my dad used to have scary incidents like that. He had sleep apnea, which was treated with a CPAP mask and bariatric surgery. He's fine now!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:56 PM on February 3, 2012

Could be a seizure. Our youngest son (who seemed to make regular trips to the emergency room between the ages of 18 months and 30 months) had a persistent fever at the age of 24 months or so. The fever last for 4 days, until he seemed to be getting better. We were watching tv when suddenly he appeared to stop breathing - it was a "febrile seisure". The doctor in emerg said that he never stopped breathing, but the seizure itself made it hard for him to breathe normally. So a seizure could do that.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:00 PM on February 3, 2012

Sounds like sleep apnea, my uncle has to wear a CPAP mask just in case he stops breathing while he sleeps. He's had this problem for years, and the mask helps with his snoring too, apparently.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:11 PM on February 3, 2012

My mother used to tell a story very like this about my eldest sister. Nothing of the sort has ever recurred in her life and she's over 50 now. So, yeah, stuff like this can happen and just be a one-off.
posted by yoink at 1:16 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

My first attack of sleep paralysis occurred when I was about 7.
posted by hermitosis at 1:26 PM on February 3, 2012

A couple of months ago, my 7 year old daughter had something similar happen. She fell asleep on the sofa waiting for my husband to get home from his office holiday party, tucked into a down blanket in her coziest pjs, and I was watching TV next to her. She'd had a stuffy nose for a few days, and was feeling punky, but not very very sick. At about 11 she suddenly moved, sat up, motioned "I can't breathe" and got panicky I asked her if she wanted me to call for help, she nodded frantically and started to pass out. She was burning up, too, though she hadn't had a fever before she fell asleep. She stood there shaking, making flapping motions and going blue. I called 911, and in the less-than five minutes before they got here (we live only about two blocks from a station), she did a barf/cough/sneeze/general expulsion and I had a hand full of mucous thicker and more awful than I'd ever seen before. Her fever was over 104, and she was spaced out and shakey, but otherwise fine and breathing. They said they could transport due to her temperature, or we could try to cool it down ourselves and we could bring her in if needed, but her lungs were clear and her colour was back and she wasn't in immediate danger. Aside from the stuffy nose and fever she was back to okay in about fifteen minutes. We gave her some Tylenol and got her in a cool bath, and within an hour the fever was down a couple of degrees to where she just seemed typically sick. The next day she was just regular sick still, and when we followed up with our doctor, we were told that yes, likely a mucous plug and not likely a by-product of anything other than snorting her snot back instead of blowing, and not coughing up phlegm for three or four days. We were to keep an eye out for asthma or bronchial symptoms, but nothing's turned up since. She's been fine, but now she actually listens to me when I tell her to blow her nose.
posted by peagood at 1:31 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

This would happen all the time with my sister when she had seizures. When she would have them (always in the middle of the night) she made all kinds of gagging sounds and I remember my parents' main concern was keeping her airway open. I think she was ~7-12 in those years. She grew out of the seizures a long time ago.
posted by cairdeas at 1:33 PM on February 3, 2012

My daughter's adenoids and tonsils had to be removed because she had almost no clearance through which to breathe; it was even worse at night. She also had nightmares and difficulty sleeping though the night during this time. Have you taken you daughter to see an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist?
posted by lekvar at 3:54 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

It happened to a child I know, or at least it matches the description I heard from her mother. It happened twice, both times during the night. She turned out to have epilepsy.

She hasn't had a seizure since she was diagnosed and started taking medication; she's A-OK 100% fine, not a big deal, everything is under control, please don't panic because I said "epilepsy," if that is what's going on -- and it probably isn't -- it can be manageable.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:17 PM on February 3, 2012

The "couldn't be roused" part doesn't sound like sleep apnea to me. If I'm in the middle of an apnea all it takes is a gentle poke and I'm awake and breathing again. Also the gagging noise occurs AFTER the breathing stops, not before.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:04 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

My brother had a tonic-clonic epileptic seizure after falling asleep in the car one time and that was the experience my Mom described after they got back from the ER. they adjusted his meds and it never happened again.
posted by batmonkey at 10:54 PM on February 3, 2012

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