shudder attacks

Back when K was about 11 months old, she began having tremors. These tremors were brief. They lasted less than 5 seconds, so if you weren’t staring at her intently, they were easy to miss. It essentially looked like a shiver — as if she felt a sudden chill — followed by a brief “tensing” of her body and a blank stare into space. Then, that was it. They went away after about a week, and we never received an explanation for them.

Fast forward about ten months, and we reach this past weekend when we noticed that these tremors were happening again. She had multiple “episodes” on Saturday, but very few on Sunday. Regardless, I decided to take her in to the pedi. We didn’t get a definitive answer during the last round of tremors, and I wanted to see if a new set of eyes would be able to determine what was happening.

After a thorough exam, the pedi called in a pediatric neurologist, who finally put a name to these strange (and admittedly a little scary) events:

shudder attacks

Don’t worry. I’ve never heard of them either; however, you can Google search and watch videos of these attacks happening in small children. You can also read more here. Shudder attacks usually start in infancy and peak during a child’s toddler years. They are essentially benign “seizures” — though they aren’t exactly seizures and aren’t usually tied to any larger neurological disorder or function.

They have no clue what causes these. There are no consistent triggers, though we have noticed that they seem to happen for K around mealtimes. They are just these strange things that happen that are completely unexplained. There is no method of treatment, and kids usually grow out of them by the time they are ten or so. The only thing we can do is monitor her to make sure they don’t start occurring more frequently or lasting longer than several seconds. If that does happen, she’ll have to go in for further testing.

On one hand, I’m happy that this was her diagnosis. These are relatively harmless, and she doesn’t seem affected by the episodes. She’s had a couple since our appointment, and she appears to bounce right back into whatever she was doing prior to the shudder. On the other hand, I wish I knew WHY they were happening. I want to know what causes them. I want to know if this is something tied to any of her other, previous medical issues. I want to know if other children born under similar circumstances have them, too.

Clearly, it still frustrates me to hear “I don’t know.” And it frustrates me even more so now that it’s about my child — not about me.

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3 thoughts on “shudder attacks

  1. Mihaela says:

    This won’t help the why, but a friend’s daughter had the exact same thing going from age 18 months till about 7. She even fainted a few times during them. Turns out her dad also had them as a toddler. A little scary to experience, but they never had much of a reason for them either. She is 10 now and hasn’t had them in a few years.

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