Guillain Barre Syndrome

What is Guillain-Barré syndrome?

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) occurs when the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system — the system of nerves that run though the body, outside the brain and spinal cord. It can cause muscle weakness, pain, changes in sensation (numbness or tingling), and sometimes even temporary paralysis of muscles in the legs, arms, face and chest.

Guillain-Barré usually develops quickly, over the course of just a few days. It usually starts in the feet then moves into the upper body. In severe cases, it can cause serious breathing problems that need emergency treatment. Children with Guillain-Barré often need to be admitted to the hospital for monitoring and care, but most children recover fully and are able to go back to their regular activities in a few weeks.

People of all ages can get Guillain-Barré syndrome, but it is extremely rare: It affects only about one in 100,000 people.

guillain barre medical illustration

How we care for Guillain-Barré syndrome

At Boston Children’s Hospital, the specialists in our Neuromuscular Center are experienced in recognizing the signs of Guillain-Barré and providing excellent care and treatment. Our team works together with your family to help your child get back to normal life as quickly and fully as possible.