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Guillain-Barré Syndrome in Children: Care Instructions


Guillain-Barré (say "ghee-YAN bah-RAY") syndrome is a nerve problem. Your child may have been ill or had an infection. While the body's own defences (immune system) were fighting off the illness, the nerves were damaged. Guillain-Barré syndrome makes your child's muscles weak and leaves your child feeling numb or tingly. Many people with this syndrome do not get worse than that. But some people with Guillain-Barré syndrome may not be able to move their limbs.

Some people with Guillain-Barré syndrome need to go into the hospital because the muscles become so weak that it may be hard to walk or breathe. If your child cannot move at all, your child may have treatment to help breathe, drink, and eat.

With time, your child should start feeling stronger. But it may be several months before your child can return to everyday activities. During that time your child may need therapy to help regain the ability to walk and talk. Your child may continue to feel tired even after they no longer have Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Make sure your child rests as much as possible.
  • If possible, have your child exercise daily to help strengthen the muscles.
  • Have your child do physiotherapy as directed by your doctor.
  • Ask your family and friends for help at home while your child has Guillain-Barré syndrome and is recovering. Your child may need help with some activities and chores.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child loses the ability to move.
  • Your child has trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.