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Charlotte Church Says Ruby's Tantrums Lead to Fainting Spells

10/23/2009 at 02:00 PM ET
Matt Cardy/Getty

During a fundraising appearance at a new children’s hospital in Wales earlier this week, songstress and television host Charlotte Church revealed that she is all-too familiar with the fears many parents face when it comes to the health of their children.

Although the condition is not life-threatening, Charlotte’s 2-year-old daughter Ruby Megan suffers from breath-holding spells that have caused her to lose consciousness.

“Ruby does this thing when she holds her breath, especially when she is having a tantrum and wants her own way,” Charlotte, 23, explains. “She will hold her breath until she passes out.”

“The first time it happened it was absolutely horrendous. I took her to hospital and they said some children do this until the age of about three when they grow out of it.”

Doctors told Charlotte and her boyfriend Gavin Henson that Ruby can be brought to by spraying her face with water, or by blowing on her face. “Every time it’s happened she’s been fine afterwards,” Charlotte points out, “but it causes Gavin and I a lot of worry.”

The episodes can be brought on whenever Ruby is displeased, Charlotte said, including “if she sees something she wants like sweets or chocolates.” It’s presented quite a problem for the couple, who now must weigh the pros and cons of giving in to their daughter. “If I stop her [from getting what she wants] it risks her having one of these breathing attacks,” Charlotte explains.

According to the UK newspaper Telegraph, medical experts estimate that about five percent of all children endure spells like Ruby, but it is very rare for a child to lose consciousness as a result.

As for Ruby’s little brother Dexter Lloyd, 9 months, Charlotte says that all is well. “[He] is as strong as a silverback gorilla,” she jokes.

Source: Telegraph

– Missy

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Showing 40 comments

computerag on

Scary! I feel for them — I don’t know what I would do in their shoes.

My cousin (who is now in his thirties) used to do this when he was that age. I remember seeing his lips turn blue during one of those tantrums. He’s a wonderful and very mellow guy now though.

camsmama on

One of my friend’s oldest daughter did this as a toddler, she is now 3 and has completely outgrown it. I have never heard of it until my friend told me about her daughter. I can’t even imagine how scary that must be for them. Hopefully, she will outgrow it soon as well.

im on

I was one of those kids that passed out when I didnt get what i wanted. I was the same age and i would turn blue and pass out and my parents had to put cold water on my face to get me up again. I am 23 yrs old now and normal as can be. I am actually a very shy and quiet person. I just think its cool to know that other kids out there do the same. the doctors told my parents at the time that i was just my way of throwing a temper tantrum. my parents tell me the first time i did it to them it was the scariest moment of their lives

fay on

OMG my little cousin does this, and the FIRST time she did it, she gave ALL of us a heart attack… now she does it and we just make sure she doesn’t hit her head, and then when she comes to she goes to time out… OMG… i never knew this was a common thing… i thought that girl was just mischievous…

marfmom on

I’ve never heard that classified as a “condition.” We’ve always just referred to it as a particularly stubborn kid who holds their breath, lol. I mean I’m sure it’s very scary for them, but I guess I was a little off-put by her trying to compare her child’s tantrums to the fear parents whose children are regularly at the hospital feel. Or maybe I misinterpreted what was written and that’s not what she meant? Sometimes it’s hard to tell what a celeb is saying and what CBB is inferring in order to write about it.

In any case, I like this family and they have cute children.

Kelly-Marie on

I used to hold my breth. when i was lil it lasted untill i was 7-8 im now 14 <3 x

Lauren on

My boyfriends mom told me that he used to do this all the time when he was a toddler, he would hold his breath until he passed out and when you pass out your body will automatically breathe again. I can’t imagine what its like..

Beatrice on

marfmom, I read another article over at the Daily Mail site and definitely got the impression that Church considers this a medical condition. I don’t see it as a health issue, but a matter of temperament and parenting style. It was kind of insensitive for Church to allude that Ruby was suffering from long-term health issues.

When younger, I held my breath when angry, and my eldest son did as well. My mother’s solution was to just appease me at every turn (much like Charlotte Church), but I was less willing to accommodate this behaviour in my son. My mother was insulted that I didn’t follow her lead and use it as an excuse to be soft on HER grandson. I just made sure that he wasn’t going to hurt himself when he collapsed, but didn’t fret. This behaviour stopped by the time he was 5.

Brianne on

That is scary phase that I hope she outgrows quickly! My daughter takes good old crying tantrums and even they aren’t fun! lol

AK on

Both my brother and I did this, as well as my husband’s aunt. I started at 6 months old, which terrified my parents, but they were told I would grow out of it and I did by age 4. I did it to get my way and when I was afraid. They were also told not to throw water on my face because that could throw me into shock since part of my problem was fear. I hope Ruby grows out of it quickly.

Stacy on

My son did that for his first two years. He is almost 3 and has not done in a while. It is so scary, every time. The first time he did it I thought he was dead. We had an EKG done to be sure he was okay and he was. I guess I did it as a child too. Not fun stuff.

Jennifer on

It’s called Breath Holding Spells. My oldest daughter did this when she got hurt. It is very scary experience when it first happens. First time it happened my daughter was around 22 month old and my mom’s dog knocked her down. I thought she was having a seizure at the time.

Amanda on

Umm, BHS is not a matter of temperament or parenting style. It’s a recognised medical issue that is, the majority of the time, involuntary and reflexive. It doesn’t just happen when a child doesn’t get their own way and throws a tantrum; it can also happen if a child is anxious or scared.

marfmom on

Beatrice, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought it was insensitive. Holding their breath is just something that some toddlers do, and it’s not uncommon, and they grow out of it. I work with a lot of families who spend a great deal of time at the hospital for actual medical problems and while I can imagine that it would be terrifying to me the first time my son passed out if he develops a tendency to hold his breath when mad, I just don’t think it compares.

Sara on

“I don’t see it as a health issue, but a matter of temperament and parenting style.” ….. Seriously? So my 19 month old son (whom has done this since 1 month of age) who has BHS’s does it because of my parenting skills? That is a bold statement! I have two older kids that never did it and my youngest does. He is not a stubbourn child, he is not a spoiled child… he does it when he cries. He can fall and get hurt and does it. He can wake up crying and do it. He doesn’t do it just because I am not going to give him a toy, to get his way. If some of your guys’ kids cried, turned a shade of blueberry that I have never seen on a person before, and lost consciousness… yeah, I am sure you’d say it is more of a medical issue vs. parenting style. I am just very thankful that kids outgrow it! Can’t wait till my son does!

Rachel-Jane on

I actually remember reading about BHS in a book about first aid for children, so it’s obviously a bit more serious than just bad parenting. Poor Charlotte and Gavin, I can’t imagine how frightening that must have been first time Ruby did it.

Shan on

My friend’s two year old used to do this, until oneday, her grandmother poured coke on her face. She hasn’t done it since.

JMO on

My cousin did this too.

And well if you kid isn’t holding their breath then they’re stickin their fingers in their mouths and making themselves gag til they puke!! gotta love kids!

maryanne on

It has nothing to do with bad parenting or a bratty child, it is an involuntary response to extreme emotion. Breath holding spells ARE a medical condition, one that has been linked to genetics, which is why it tends to run in families. And although they are not life threatening and they don’t do any damage to the child they are very very scary. My son had his first breath holding spell at 17 months and I absolutely thought that he was dying. He turned blue, his eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he started convulsing, as some children will have a small seizure while they are out. He has had three breath holding spells since, and a lot of close calls. We have to keep a bottle of water with us at all times to splash on the back of his neck and chest if he starts to have a BHS to keep him from passing out.

Laura on

I think (after reading these posts and knowing other info) it seems like BHS is a real medican condition HOWEVER there are some kids who do it purely to get their way and they control it. So to say it is because of the parenting style could be true if the child is simply doing it so they can get their way. If they have been diagnosed with BHS and don’t necessarily control it then it isn’t a parenting issue at all.

Either way I hope Ruby out grows it soon because I’m sure it’s scary.

noam on

i’ve actually read about this (or something similar) in a psychology book. children who do this can have delayed expression, which, with proper responses from adults, can be outgrown. it isn’t something they do to get their way or to scare their parents. it’s that they are unable to verbalize or express strong emotions, and their body involuntarily does this, the way another person would scream if they saw a spider or cry if they were injured. you can coach or teach your child to have an appropriate response in times of neutral emotion. much like asking a child what sound a dog makes, you ask the child what you do when you are sad (cry). to indicate that a child who suffers from this is being indulged by his parents, or that the parents are lax, is a bit insensitive, in my opinion.

Sarah K. on

Beatrice, Charlotte never implied that Ruby has a long-term medical condition. She specifically said that she was told kids grow out of out. Also, she didn’t say she just gives Ruby whatever she wants. She said she has to weigh the risks. Just because your style works for you and your son, does not mean it has to work for Charlotte and Ruby.

Hannah on

i used to do that

Amber on

I used to do that as a toddler when I didn’t get my way. I was very stubborn and still am, but I don’t hold my breath anymore! My mom always said that I’d start breathing as soon as I passed out, so she wasn’t worried (except for the first time, I’m sure!). I can tell you it wasn’t BHS, it was just pure stubbornness.

Amber Joy on

Some people do this as a pain or panic response. I am 32 years old and still hold my breath if I am hurt or extremely upset. I don’t do it to the point of passing out, but I do “forget” to breathe. (it is not an intentional response.) As a child, I passed out a couple of times, but the fainting ceased when I was about 4. My son also holds his breath when in pain. He has never done it from a tantrum, and (Thank God) he has never done it to the point of fainting. Then again, since I have this condition I always remind him to take a deep breath and blow it all out.

Amber Joy on

Oh, and for the record, I don’t think it is typically a parenting style issue AT ALL. I actually take offense to this. My son is 8 years old, and has autism. He wasn’t diagnosed until age 6 however, because his doctor told me that it was my parenting that was causing his issues, and that I was “just a young mom” and that I “didn’t know what I was doing”. After he was finally diagnosed, a whole new world opened up, and for the first time, I felt confident that I was doing the right thing and that I was a GOOD parent to my son.

Mimi on

i used to do this as a child. My mother was told by the doctors not to panic as i would start breathing again when i fainted. I no longer do it and i have suffered no lasting effects from it.

dee on

I still do this when I get severely hurt, and I’m 28. I broke my foot playing soccer in highschool, and the trainer actually had to give me a little tap to the face to start breathing again.

Ratty on

My brother used to do that between the ages of about 18 months to 4 years. None of my other siblings ever did it, nor did my cousins, but no doctor ever told my parents that it was a medical condition (and believe you me, we spent a lot of time at the doctor’s with my brother as he suffers with numerous allergies that went undiagnosed for a long time, so he was labelled as having every medical condition under the sun). We always got told that he was just being naughty and to let him to do it because they start breathing again when they faint. He’s an 18 year old arrogant little so-and-so now, but it caused no long term damage. Perhaps there are different ‘types’ of breath-holding (ie. because of different reasons).

Lisa on

I used to do that too, but not so much as a tantrum thing when I didn’t get what I want. My mom said I was very easily startled as a baby and when something scared me, I’d cry really hard and hold my breath until I passed out. Usually if she blew in my face as soon as she saw me holding my breath, I’d gasp and start breathing again without passing out.

Sarah M. on

There was a little boy who did this at the day care I used to work. His father warned all of the teachers who would ever have a chance of working with him that he did this and not to worry. That he was fine and to either blow on his face or splash water on it and that he would probably want to sit on our laps for a few minutes afterward.

eternalcanadian on

Oh dear, that sounds horrible. After just one minute of not breathing brain cells begin to die. When 3 minutes of not breathing has been reached serious brain damage is likely. So if a child is holding their breath for even just one minutes until they pass out, brain cell damage has already started. I would squirt the kid’s face immediatately wiht that spray water bottle to get them breathing and well before they pass out.

Katie on

It is NOT rare for a child to pass out and lose consciousness from breath holding. Its actually very common and extremely scary for the parents or anyone around. No, it is not harmful, but that still does not take away from the fear a parent has when their child passes out. Its SCARY. Whether it be the 1st time or the 100th time. Thats your child, your baby, your love. I’m sad this young mom is being judged so harshly when obviously she just has a concern for her child. Its so easy to judge until you are in that situation.

maryanne on

Actually eternalcanadian, brain cell loss doesn’t begin until a brain has been deprived of oxygen for about 3-6 minutes, depending on the individual. In First Aid/CPR training you are taught that after about 7- 10 minutes of not breathing, brain damage has likely occurred. Why are you trying to needlessly scare parents? BHS does NOT cause brain damage.

Stacy on

With the whole brain cell dying thing, when my son passed out it was usually due to pain. He wouldn’t breath during a cry, which only lasts a few seconds. Once they are out, they start to breath again. So they are only deprived of oxygen for seconds. It seems longer when it is happening. Non-issue.

Lala on

I know this may sound bad but I bet if you threw cold water or just water on a child that is beginning to do this they would probably not do it again. They would associate that each time they did this water would be thrown on them. Since they wouldn’t like that they probably wouldn’t do it anymore.
I like Shan’s story…very funny. Water won’t hurt a child.
A friend of mine used to let her little girl sleep with her at night. She would kick her all night long. One day she gently kicked her back enough to wake her. Her little girl complained and my friend explained how she had been kicking her and it didn’t feel nice did it.
They was the last time she did it to my friend. haha
Kids are smart!

CelebBabyLover on

Lala- Cold water won’t work if the BHS (Breath holding spells) are involuntary. As other posters have said, that does sometimes happen. That is when BHS is an actual medical condition. :)

Beatrice on

Re: Sara (October 23rd, 2009 at 4:39 pm), Comment #15.

Please re-read my original comment (#8). You have missed the mark on my comments.

The phrase I used was “temperament and parenting style.” I made no mention of parenting SKILL, as you attest. I am not casting aspersions on your parenting SKILL.

I simply don’t agree with Church’s attitude of appeasing/cloistering the child so to avoid fainting spells. This was my mother tactic, WHEN I HAD THESE SPELLS. Yes, I do have FIRST HAND experience with this: I did this as a toddler, and my child did this as a toddler. This was also in my initial comment.

Re: Amber Joy Says (October 23rd, 2009 at 8:46 pm), Comment #26

Duuuuuude. Your doctor was an ass. Glad you got a diagnosis for your child.

Re: maryanne (October 24th, 2009 at 6:26 pm), Comment #34:

Great comment! I was wondering about that.

Teefah on

when my daughter was about one years old, she got really upset and began to cry. she breathed out and i never herd her breath in so i grabbed her and she was stiff and not breathing. my father in law started to bounce her up and down and then she started to breath and passed out. i was horrified but she was fine when she came to. the second time it happened i was so upset that i took her to the hospital. they did a cat scan and found nothing and said it was a breath holding spell. my daughter is 6 yrs old now and it never happened again, but i strongly believe breath holding spell was not the case. i have a one month old son and i am a little scared he will do the same…..

Judy Firestone on

My Daughter Used To Do That. But Now In Her 30′s She Doesn’t Do That Any More. She Out Grew It. Around He Pre Teens She Stopped Doing That. I Hope Little Ruby Will Out Grow That Like My Little Girl Did. Charlotte And Gav, Hang In There. She’ll Be Just Fine. God Bless And Take Care.

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