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Pediatrics/2 year old behavior issues


My 2.5 year old is a wonderfully outgoing, independent and very happy girl with the traditional bouts of tantrums when she doesn't get her way.  However in the last week, on three different occasions (swimming class, dance class, and now in school) she has had what can only be described as "episodes" where she breaks down - almost hyperventilating - and it is completely unclear what has brought this on.  There is no apparent conflict, or problem that causes the onset of these episodes.  She clings to her closest adult (her mother on two occasions, and teacher on one occasion) and begs to go home.  Her teachers expressed to me (mother) concern for her today when I picked her up; they said they were able to console her but only after hugging her for quite a while and telling her to "take deep breaths".  After about 15 minutes, she is apparently OK and back to normal.  

I must reiterate that this is completely different from her usual tantrums where she often screams or pouts or yells, and then quickly says "sorry, mommy".   

I can only describe it as what would seem like a panic attack.

Is this normal? Should I take her to a doctor to make sure there isn't something medically wrong with her?

Thank you for any advice you can provide.

Hi, kristin,

It is possible that these are panic attacks, even at this tender age.  It would be more common with a history of anxiety disorders in the family.  Another possibility is some type of unusual seizure, although this would be rare.  I would suggest a visit to your pediatrician for a good history, a thorough exam and perhaps, if deemed needed, an EEG to help rule out a wierd generalized atypical seizure.

Good luck, Dr. Olson


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David Olson, MD


I would be happy to attempt to answer any questions about general pediatric topics, either medical issues or behavioral issues. This would include all the various questions one receives in a busy pediatric practice. I`m a board certified pediatrician in northern Michigan and have been in practice for over 15 years. I enjoy the teaching role I have in our practice and would enjoy the opportunity to help others with their pediatric problems.

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