Guillain-Barré Syndrome | Frequently Asked Questions

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Are there different types of Guillain-Barré?

Yes, there are a few types that affect children. These include:

  • Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP). This is the most common form of Guillain-Barré. In this type, the covering around peripheral nerve cells, called myelin, is damaged.
  • Acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN). This type of Guillain-Barré involves damage to nerve axons, rather than the myelin coverings around them. It is fairly rare in the United States, but is more common in other parts of the world including East Asia. Children with this type usually take longer to recover.
  • Miller Fisher syndrome. This is a very rare form of Guillain-Barré, especially in children. It primarily affects the nerves in the face, so the major symptom is weakness in the face muscles. It also causes decreased reflexes and balance problems.
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP). Some children who have Guillain-Barré have a relapse months or even years later. If that happens, your child may develop CIDP.

Is it an emergency?

Yes, it can be. Guillain-Barré usually develops over the course of just a few days and can cause life-threatening complications. So if your child is having trouble walking, call your primary care provider right away or go an emergency room. If your child has Guillain-Barré, he or she will probably need to stay in the hospital for treatment.

Do children recover from Guillain-Barré?

Yes. The disease is very treatable, and the vast majority of children recover fully or with only mild long-term weakness. Guillain-Barré starts quickly, but most children also recover quickly. However, some children do continue to have weakness or other symptoms.

Can my child get Guillain-Barré again?

Most children who have Guillain-Barré never have it again. But some children have a relapse, which can occur months or even years later. If that happens, your child may develop a more chronic form of the disease, called chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP).

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