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RAS after car accident?

My 3 and a half year old has just been diagnosed (Oct 14) with RAS, and has had 3 episodes, all triggered by a fast, surpise fall (including a bump to the head on two occasions). He has had many falls and bumps to the head in the past, and only started having these episodes a few days after a serious car accident where we were hit at speed from behind on a slip road whilst we were stationary (July 14).The first episode happened within a week. The last one, which happened after his diagnosis with RAS, presented more like a breath holding spell as he did the long silent cry and couldn't seem to get a breath in. This time he was only unconscious very briefly and was much less frightening than the previous two.

As he is older than the usual age of onset (he was 3 and 2 mths when he had the first one), I am wondering whether the car accident triggered it in some way, and just wondered if anyone else has experience of RAS or breath holding starting following a traumatic or frightening experience? He didn't have an episode at the time of the collision, but did cry a lot, and it was a very loud and unexpected bang when we were hit. He complained of neck and ear pain at the time, so an ambulance came and checked him over but didn't think he needed to be admitted to hospital or have x-rays.

He is about to start at a new nursery and everyone I discuss it with thinks it strange that it only started after the car accident. (One nursery actually rejected him on the basis of his RAS diagnosis!)

I'd be very grateful to hear from anyone with their experiences of RAS.

7 Replies

I suffered RAS after combat in Viet Nam war, where I was blown up on numerous occasions (hundreds). Never occurred to me that, may have been the reason, for the attacks of syncope.


Thanks for your reply.

I'm sorry to hear that you suffered RAS as an adult ... that must have been very difficult to deal with on top of your terrible experiences in the war.

Did you have very frequent attacks with a particular trigger and I wonder if you still suffer episodes now?


They happen almost daily now. blood pressure drops trigger them.


Sorry to hear that. I hope you have a good doctor/specialist who can help.


Took him over 20 years to diagnose syncope. VA says to wear a helmet. Hah!


RAS can occur at any age and unexpected stimulus such as pain, shock or fright can cause the heart and breathing to stop. I can understand wondering whether it is a coincidence these episodes have followed the car accident or been triggered by it. Fear is a known trigger of RAS and at the moment as the car accident is still vivid, it may be when he experiences a bump or pain, it brings what we as adults would call 'a flash back'.

We are very sad that school has rejected your son and this is very unusual. STARS has care plans to share and an Education DVD if a school would welcome this support. Please email me, if I can help.

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Thank you for your reply.

I did print off STARS information sheets on RAS and wrote a care plan, as well as e-mailing the STARS link to the short video on RAS and also gave them the phone number of STARS to discuss their concerns.

Unfortunately none of this changed their minds! I will email you directly for the Education DVD as I'm sure that would be appreciated by the nursery that he will now be attending.