Guillain-Barré syndrome in children

John T Sladky
Journal of Child Neurology 2004, 19 (3): 191-200
In industrialized nations with widespread immunization programs, Guillain-Barré syndrome is the most common cause of acute paralytic illness in children and adults. The incidence of the disease has been estimated to range from 0.5 to 1.5 in 100,000 in individuals less than 18 years of age. Approximately 15% of children with Guillain-Barré syndrome develop respiratory failure and require mechanical ventilatory support. Prospective randomized treatment trials in childhood Guillain-Barré syndrome are wanting; however, smaller case series studies using historical controls suggest that both plasmapheresis and administration of human immunoglobulin could be helpful in reducing morbidity in children with Guillain-Barré syndrome. The prognosis for recovery in children is generally excellent, with the majority of children achieving a complete functional recovery within 6 months from the onset of illness. Studies using an animal model of human Guillain-Barré syndrome, experimental allergic neuritis, have expanded our understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease and suggest new directions for exploration in the treatment of this disorder.

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