Seventy-two children with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), diagnosed at 11 major teaching hospitals in Taiwan during the period 1986-1990, were studied retrospectively. There were 44 males and 28 females ranging in age from 7 months to 15 years. Preceding events could be traced in 61 patients (85%), including antecedent infection in 59 patients and previous vaccination in 2. As well as the consistent pictures of progressive weakness and generalized hyporeflexia, there were sensory complaints (26%), cranial nerve lesions (46%), respiratory failure (14%) and autonomic dysfunction (25%). Motor symptoms reached a maximum within 20 days in 88% of the patients, with the plateau lasting less than 2 weeks in 75%, and became stable within 3 months in 76%. Overall outcome showed complete recovery in 73% of the patients within 6 months after onset. Four (5.6%) had recurrence, and there was no mortality. The present study revealed that the annual incidence of GBS in Taiwan can be estimated roughly as 0.66 per 100,000 and that the course of childhood GBS is relatively benign.
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