Guillain-Barré Syndrome | Treatments

What are the treatment options for Guillain-Barré syndrome?

Your child will probably need to be admitted to the hospital so doctors can watch for complications and help him or her recover.

Guillain-Barré syndrome is very treatable, and most of children recover fully or with only mild long-term weakness. Most children can go home from the hospital within a week.

Immune system treatments

Guillain-Barré syndrome is usually treated with immune system treatments, which help your child's immune system go back to working normally. There are two types:

  • Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) is a procedure that filters your child’s blood though a machine. During plasma exchange, blood is temporarily removed from your child's body to filter out abnormal antibodies. The filtered blood is then returned to his or her body along with albumin or plasma from blood donors.
  • Immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG) involves infusing a blood product called immunoglobulin through an IV line into your child's veins. Immunoglobulin is pooled from multiple donors that contain normal antibodies. 

Supportive treatments

Depending on your child’s particular condition, he or she may need other tests or treatments while in the hospital.

  • If your child's blood pressure is going up and down, the medical team may do an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram (EKG) to check his or her heart.
  • If your child is having trouble breathing, he or she may need to be placed on a ventilator (breathing machine) until he or she is able to breathe again.
  • Your child may get pain medications to control pain.

Follow-up care

Some children recovering from Guillain-Barré need physical or occupational therapy after leaving the hospital to help regain muscle strength in their arms and legs.

Expert care for Guillain-Barré syndrome

At Boston Children’s Hospital, specialists in our Neuromuscular Center are experienced diagnosing and treating children of all ages with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Our program brings together pediatric specialists from neurology and other fields to provide comprehensive care for our patients.

We also provide follow-up outpatient care for children recovering from Guillain-Barré — either in the Boston Children's Physical Therapy Department or Occupational Therapy Department.

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