In order to obtain more information on the incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome and recent developments in its prognosis, we analysed the severity and prognosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome in children diagnosed and treated during the years 1980-6 throughout Finland. The criteria for Guillain-Barré syndrome were fulfilled in 14 boys and 13 girls. The mean annual number of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome was thus 3.9, giving a mean annual incidence of 0.38/100,000 of population under 15 years of age (95% confidence intervals 0.25 to 0.56/100,000). The incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome causing permanent neurological defects in children under 15 years of age was 1.4/10 million annually (95% confidence intervals 0.035 to 7.8/10 million). Our figures appeared to be one fourth to a half of that reported earlier in children and even lower than those in adults. Although there were no deaths among our patients, mortality from Guillain-Barré syndrome seems to have remained similar for the last 20 years despite current awareness of the possibility of cardiac arrest and respiratory failure.
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