Guillain-Barré Syndrome | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome?

Each child may have different symptoms, but some of the most common symptoms include:

  • weakness or pain in the legs and arms (usually begins in the legs)
  • problems walking
  • pain, numbness or tingling in the toes and fingers
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • weakness in the face
  • breathing problems (in severe cases)

If your child is having trouble walking, call your primary care provider right away or go to an emergency room.

What are the causes of Guillain-Barré syndrome?

Doctors don’t completely understand the causes of Guillain-Barré. In some cases, it occurs after a mild viral or bacterial infection. Occasionally, it can occur after an immunization. Often, however, there is no known cause.

Experts believe that the reason why infections can trigger autoimmune conditions such as Guillain-Barré is that when the immune system attacks the invading viruses or bacteria, it can sometimes also attack healthy tissue.

Although some vaccines have been linked with Guillain-Barré in the past, this is extremely rare. If you have any concerns about vaccines, talk with your child’s pediatrician. You may also find this Q&A from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) helpful.