Understanding Guillain-Barre Syndrome In Children: What You Should Know

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When you have a child, the last thing that you probably want to think about is the possibility that they may have or contract a rare medical condition. However, sometimes these things do happen and you want to be prepared for it. Guillain-Barre syndrome is a condition of the nervous system that can affect children. In order to recognize if your child is affected by this disorder and what you can do for them if they are, get to know more about this disorder. Then, if you ever see signs of Guillain-Barre in your child, you can get them to the pediatrician right away. 

What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a disorder that affects the nervous system. However, it is technically an autoimmune disorder. When a person suffers from this disorder, their immune system is targeting and attacking their own nerve cells rather than foreign cells that invade the body.

This disorder is very rare and is more common with increasing age. However, children (no matter what age) can also be affected.

What Are The Symptoms Of GBS?

GBS is a disorder that can progress very quickly. The most common and usually the first sign of GBS is a tingling, weakness, or numbness in an area of the body (often beginning in the extremities like hands, feet, arms, and legs). This sensation will grow and spread as the condition develops and often does so within weeks.

Someone suffering from GBS can also begin to feel increasingly tired and exhausted as movements become more difficult. Paralysis can progress to dangerous levels in some cases if muscle paralysis extends into the abdomen or chest.

If you notice that your child is having trouble lifting their arms or legs or is acting as if they cannot move, then they may be having GBS-related issues. You will need to be particularly aware of any labored or shallow breathing or an inability to complete tasks they previously could. In such cases, a trip to the pediatrician or the emergency room may be in order. 

What Are The Treatments For GBS?

GBS is almost always treated in the hospital in an inpatient or ICU setting. This is because the progression of GBS can be rapid and you cannot predict where the paralysis will move to next. Doctors can then monitor the patient to ensure the person's vital signs are stable and can intervene with life support services until the nervous system heals.

Some of the treatments for GBS involve a process that removes the blood from the body and separates the red and white blood cells from the blood plasma. The red and white blood cells are then reintroduced into the body without the plasma. This process is known as plasmapheresis and is thought to stop the body from attacking itself.

Immunoglobin therapy is also an option and involves a transfusion of healthy antibodies from donor blood and plasma into the body to block out and stop the antibodies that are attacking the nerve cells in the body.

Now that you know more about Guillain-Barre Syndrome, you can watch out for signs and symptoms in your child, and seek out treatment for them (at clinics like Lawrenceville Pediatrics) at the first sign of trouble.