Clinical presentation and prognosis of childhood Guillain–Barré syndrome


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Dr In Young Sung, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Asan Medical Center, Ulsan University College of Medicine, 388–1 Pungnap-2dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, 138–736, Korea. Fax: +82 2 3010 6964; email:


Aim:  Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) is an acute inflammatory polyneuropathy commonly characterised by rapidly progressive, symmetric weakness and areflexia. This study is to assess the clinical characteristics of paediatric GBS, as well as its long-term functional prognosis.

Methods:  We retrospectively assessed the clinical manifestations, results of electrodiagnostic tests, functional status and prognosis of 56 children diagnosed with GBS. Based on clinical and electrophysiological findings, the patients were classified as having acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy ([AIDP]n = 34), acute motor axonal neuropathy ([AMAN]n = 14), acute motor and sensory axonal neuropathy (n = 1) and Miller Fisher syndrome ([MFS]n = 7).

Results:  Upper respiratory infection was the most frequent preceding event, and limb weakness was the most frequent symptom at GBS onset. There was no significant difference in the mean time from the onset of illness to nadir between any of these groups. Both the AIDP and AMAN groups showed significantly poorer functional status, measured by the Hughes scale, than the MFS group. Two years after nadir, however, the three groups did not differ significantly. Functional status at nadir, as estimated by the Hughes scale, is a more important factor than electrophysiological types in predicting long-term outcome.

Conclusion:  The most common symptom at onset in paediatric GBS was limb weakness. Functional status at nadir in AMAN was not significantly different from that of AIDP, and both types achieved good functional outcome for ambulation after 2 years. Functional status at nadir was more important than the electrophysiological type in predicting long-term outcomes.