Login to MyKarger

New to MyKarger? Click here to sign up.

Login with Facebook

Forgot your password?

Authors, Editors, Reviewers

For Manuscript Submission, Check or Review Login please go to Submission Websites List.

Submission Websites List

Institutional Login
(Shibboleth or Open Athens)

For the academic login, please select your country in the dropdown list. You will be redirected to verify your credentials.


Free Access

The Epidemiology of Guillain-Barré Syndrome Worldwide

A Systematic Literature Review

McGrogan A.a · Madle G.C.b · Seaman H.E.b · de Vries C.S.a

Author affiliations

aDepartment of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, University of Bath, Bath, and bDepartment of Pharmacoepidemiology, Postgraduate Medical School, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

Corresponding Author

Anita McGrogan

Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology

University of Bath

Bath BA2 7AY (UK)

Tel. +44 1225 384 228, Fax +44 1225 386 114, E-Mail a.mcgrogan@bath.ac.uk

Related Articles for ""

Neuroepidemiology 2009;32:150–163

Do you have an account?

Login Information

Contact Information

I have read the Karger Terms and Conditions and agree.


Background: This systematic literature review of the epidemiology of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) identifies trends in incidence rates by age, study method and cause of disease. It is important to have a reliable estimate of incidence to determine and investigate any changes: no previous systematic reviews of GBS have been found. Methods: After critical assessment of the reliability of the reported data, incidence rates were extracted from all relevant papers published between 1980 and 2008, identified through searches of Medline, Embase and Science Direct. Results: Sixty-three papers were included in this review; these studies were prospective, retrospective reviews of medical records or retrospective database studies. Ten studies reported on the incidence in children (0–15 years old), and found the annual incidence to be between 0.34 and 1.34/100,000. Most studies investigated populations in Europe and North America and reported similar annual incidence rates, i.e. between 0.84 and 1.91/100,000. A decrease in incidence over the time between the 1980s and 1990s was found. Up to 70% of cases of GBS were caused by antecedent infections. Conclusions: Our best estimate of the overall incidence of GBS was between 1.1/100,000/year and 1.8/100,000/year. The incidence of GBS increased with age after 50 years from 1.7/100,000/year to 3.3/100,000/year.

© 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel


  1. Hughes RA, Rees JH: Clinical and epidemiologic features of Guillain-Barre syndrome. J Infect Dis 1997;176:92–98.
  2. Asbury AK, Arnason BG, Karp HR, McFarlin DE: Criteria for diagnosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Ann Neurol 1978;3:565–566.
  3. Govoni V, Granieri E: Epidemiology of the Guillain-Barre syndrome. Curr Opin Neurol 2001;14:605–613.
  4. Hughes RAC, Rees JH: Clinical and epidemiologic features of Guillain-Barre syndrome. J Infect Dis 1997;176(suppl 2):S92–S98.
  5. Hughes RA, Cornblath DR: Guillain-Barre syndrome. Lancet 2005;366:1653–1666.
  6. Tsai CP, Wang KC, Liu CY, Sheng WY, Lee TC: Pharmacoeconomics of therapy for Guillain-Barre syndrome: plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin. J Clin Neurosci 2007;14:625–629.
  7. Sladky JT: Guillain-Barre syndrome in children. J Child Neurol 2004;19:191–200.
  8. Rantala H, Uhari M, Niemela M: Occurrence, clinical manifestation and prognosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Arch Dis Child 1991;66:706–708.
  9. van Koningsveld R, Rico R, Gerstenbluth I, Schmitz PI, Ang CW, Merkies IS, et al: Gastroenteritis-associated Guillain-Barre syndrome on the Caribbean island Curacao. Neurology 2001;56:1467–1472.
  10. Kinnunen E, Junttila O, Haukka J, Hovi T: Nationwide oral poliovirus vaccination campaign and the incidence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Am J Epidemiol 1998;147:69–73.
  11. Govoni V, Granieri E, Manconi M, Capone J, Casetta I: Is there a decrease in Guillain-Barre syndrome incidence after bovine ganglioside withdrawal in Italy? A population-based study in the Local Health District of Ferrara, Italy. J Neurol Sci 2003;216:99–103.
  12. Cheng Q, Wang DS, Jiang GX, Han H, Zhang Y, Wang WZ, et al: Distinct pattern of age-specific incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Harbin, China. J Neurol 2002;249:25–32.
  13. Zhang Y, Wang DS, Han H, Li F, Sheng L, Link H: Epidemiological survey of the incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Harbin from 1997 to 1999. Chin J Clin Rehab 2004;7812–7815.
  14. Hui AC, Chow KM, Tang AS, Fu M, Kay R, Wong KS: Electrophysiological, clinical and epidemiological study of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in Hong Kong Chinese. J Clin Neurosci 2005;12:134–136.
  15. Rocha MS, Brucki SM, Carvalho AA, Lima UW: Epidemiologic features of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Arq Neuropsiquiatr 2004;62:33–37.
  16. Storey E, Cook M, Peppard R, Newton-John H, Byrne E: Guillain-Barre syndrome and related conditions in Victorian teaching hospitals 1980–1984. Aust NZ J Med 1989;19:687–693.
  17. Hankey JG: Guillain-Barre syndrome in Western Australia, 1980–1985. Med J Aust 1987;146:130–133.
  18. Kusumi M, Nakashima K, Nakayama H, Takahashi K: Epidemiology of inflammatory neurological and inflammatory neuromuscular diseases in Tottori Prefecture, Japan. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 1995;49:169–174.
  19. Radhakrishnan K, El-Mangoush MA, Rerryo SE: Descriptive epidemiology of selected neuromuscular disorders in Benghazi, Libya. Acta Neurol Scand 1987;75:95–100.
  20. Arami MA, Yazdchi M, Khandaghi R: Epidemiology and characteristics of Guillain-Barre syndrome in the northwest of Iran. Ann Saudi Med 2006;26:22–27.
  21. Howlett WP, Vedeler CA, Nyland H, Aarli JA: Guillain-Barre syndrome in northern Tanzania: a comparison of epidemiologic and clinical findings with western Norway. Acta Neurol Scand 1996;93:44–49.
  22. Hughes RA, Charlton J, Latinovic R, Gulliford MC: No association between immunization and Guillain-Barre syndrome in the United Kingdom, 1992 to 2000. Arch Intern Med 2006;166:1301–1304.
  23. MacDonald BK, Cockerell OC, Sander JWAS, Shorvon SD: The incidence and lifetime prevalence of neurological disorders in a prospective community-based study in the UK. Brain 2000;123:665–676.
  24. Rees JH, Thompson RD, Smeeton NC, Hughes RAC: Epidemiological study of Guillain-Barre syndrome in south east England. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1998;64:74–77.
  25. Markoula S, Giannopoulos S, Sarmas I, Tzavidi S, Kyritsis AP, Lagos G: Guillain-Barre syndrome in northwest Greece. Acta Neurol Scand 2007;115:167–173.
  26. Chroni E, Papapetropoulos S, Gioldasis G, Ellul J, Diamadopoulos N, Papapetropoulos T: Guillain-Barre syndrome in Greece: seasonality and other clinico-epidemiological features. Eur J Neurol 2004;11:383–388.
  27. Guillain-Barre syndrome variants in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, 1992–3: incidence, clinical features, and prognosis. Emilia-Romagna Study Group on Clinical and Epidemiological Problems in Neurology. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1998;65:218–224.
  28. Paolino Z, Govoni V, Tola MR, Casetta I, Granieri E: Incidence of the Guillain-Barre syndrome in Ferrara, Northern Italy, 1981–1987. Neuroepidemiology 1991;10:105–111.
  29. Govoni V, Granieri E, Tola MR, Casetta I, Ruppi P, Vaghi L: The frequency of clinical variants of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Ferrara, Italy. J Neurol 1999;246:1010–1014.
  30. Beghi E, Bogliun G: The Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS): implementation of a register of the disease on a nationwide basis. Ital J Neurol Sci 1996;17:355–361.
  31. Bogliun G, Beghi E, Italian GBS Registry Study Group: Incidence and clinical features of acute inflammatory polyradiculoneuropathy in Lombardy, Italy, 1996. Acta Neurol Scand 2004;110:100–106.
  32. Chio A, Cocito D, Leone M, Giordana MT, Mora G, Mutani R, et al: Guillain-Barre syndrome: a prospective, population-based incidence and outcome survey. Neurology 2003;60:1146–1150.
  33. van Koningsveld R, van Doorn PA, Schmitz PI, Ang CW, van der Meche FG: Mild forms of Guillain-Barre syndrome in an epidemiologic survey in The Netherlands. Neurology 2000;54:620–625.
  34. Sridharan GV, Tallis RC, Gautam PC: Guillain-Barre syndrome in the elderly: a retrospective comparative study. Gerontology 1993;39:170–175.
  35. Cuadrado JI, Pedro-Cuesta J, Ara JR, Cemillan CA, Diaz M, Duarte J, et al: Guillain-Barre syndrome in Spain, 1985–1997: epidemiological and public health views. Eur Neurol 2001;46:83–91.
  36. Cuadrado JI, Pedro-Cuesta J, Ara JR, Cemillan CA, Diaz M, Duarte J, et al: Public health surveillance and incidence of adulthood Guillain-Barre syndrome in Spain, 1998–1999: the view from a sentinel network of neurologists. Neurol Sci 2004;25:57–65.
  37. Jiang GX, Cheng Q, Link H, de Pedro-Cuesta J: Epidemiological features of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Sweden 1978–1993. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1997;62:447–453.
  38. Cheng Q, Jiang GX, Fredrikson S, Link H, Pedro-Cuesta J: Incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Sweden 1996. Eur J Neurol 2000;7:11–16.
  39. Hauck LJ, White C, Feasby TE, Zochodne DW, Svenson LW, Hill MD: Incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Alberta, Canada: an administrative data study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2008;79:318–320.
  40. McLean M, Duclos P, Jacob P, Humphreys P: Incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Ontario and Quebec, 1983–1989, using hospital services databases. Epidemiology 1994;5:443–448.
  41. Church Potter R, Kaneene JB: A descriptive study of Guillain-Barre syndrome in high and low Campylobacter jejuni incidence regions of Michigan: 1992–1999. Neuroepidemiology 2003;22:245–248.
  42. Hoppock KC, Greer GG, Walling AD: The incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in a metropolitan county, 1984–1988. Kans Med 1994;95:45–47.
  43. Koobatian TJ, Birkhead GS, Schramm MM, Vogt RL: The use of hospital discharge data for public health surveillance of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Ann Neurol 1991;30:618–621.
  44. Lehmann HC, Köhne A, Meyer zu Hörste G, Kieseier BC: Incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Germany. J Peripher Nerv Syst 2007;12:285.
  45. Alshekhlee A, Hussain Z, Sultan B, Katirji B: Guillain-Barre syndrome: incidence and mortality rates in US hospitals. Neurology 2008;70:1608–1613.
  46. Winner SJ, Evans JG: Age specific incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Oxfordshire. Q J Med 1990;77:1297–1304.
  47. A prospective study on the incidence and prognosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Emilia-Romagna region, Italy (1992–1993). Emilia-Romagna Study Group on Clinical and Epidemiological Problems in Neurology. Neurology 1997;48:214–221.
  48. Jiang GX, Cheng Q, Ehrnst A, Link H, de Pedro-Cuesta J: Guillain-Barre syndrome in Stockholm county, 1973–1991. Eur J Epidemiol 1997;13:25–32.
  49. Jiang GX, de Pedro-Cuesta J, Fredrikson S: Guillain-Barre syndrome in south-west Stockholm, 1973–1991. 1. Quality of registered hospital diagnoses and incidence. Acta Neurol Scand 1995;91:109–117.
  50. Sedano MJ, Calleja J, Canga E, Berciano J: Guillain-Barre syndrome in Cantabria, Spain: an epidemiological and clinical study. Acta Neurol Scand 1994;89:287–292.
  51. Riggs JE, Cutmann L, Whited JD: Guillain-Barre syndrome: another immune-mediated disease with a predilection for young women? W V Med J 1989;85:382–383.
  52. D’Ambrosio G, De Angelis G, Vizoli R: Epidemiology of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Campania (South Italy). Acta Neurol 1983;23:245–252.
  53. Barzegar M, Dastgiri S, Karegarmaher MH, Varshochiani A: Epidemiology of childhood Guillan-Barre syndrome in the north west of Iran. BMC Neurology 2007;7:22.
  54. Dias-Tosta E, Kuckelhaus CS: Guillain Barre syndrome in a population less than 15 years old in Brazil. Arq Neuropsiquiatr 2002;60:367–373.
  55. Congia S, Melis M, Carboni MA: Epidemiologic and clinical features of the Guillain-Barre syndrome in Sardinia in the 1961–1980 period. Acta Neurol 1989;11:15–20.
  56. Larson JP, Kvale G, Nyland H: Epidemiology of the Guillain-Barre syndrome in the county of Hordaland, Western Norway. Acta Neurol Scand 1985;71:43–47.
  57. Molinero MR, Varon D, Holden KR, Sladky JT, Molina IB, Cleaves F: Epidemiology of childhood Guillain-Barre syndrome as a cause of acute flaccid paralysis in Honduras: 1989–1999. J Child Neurol 2003;18:741–747.
  58. Olive JM, Castillo C, Garcia Castro R, de Quadros CA: Epidemiologic study of Guillain-Barre syndrome in children <15 years of age in Latin America. J Infect Dis 1997;175(suppl):S160–S164.
  59. Hart DE, Rojas LA, Rosario JA, Recalde H, Roman GC: Childhood Guillain-Barre syndrome in Paraguay, 1990 to 1991. Ann Neurol 1994;36:859–863.
  60. Hung KL, Wang HS, Liou WY, Mak SC, Chi CS, Shen EY, et al: Guillain-Barre syndrome in children: a cooperative study in Taiwan. Brain Dev 1994;16:204–208.
  61. Artan R: Childhood Guillain Barre syndrome in Antalya, Turkey. Int Med J 1997;4:215–217.
  62. Bak P: Guillain-Barre syndrome in a Danish county. Neurology 1985;35:207–211.
  63. Halls J, Bredkjaer C, Friis ML: Guillain-Barre syndrome: diagnostic criteria, epidemiology, clinical course and prognosis. Acta Neurol Scand 1988;78:118–122.
  64. Haberman S, Benjamin B, Rose FC, Capildeo R: North west Thames registry of neurological disease. J Royal Soc Med 1982;75:443–449.
  65. Kaplan JE, Poduska PJ, McIntosh GC, Hopkins RS, Ferguson SW, Schonberger LB: Guillain-Barre syndrome in Larimer County, Colorado: a high incidence area. Neurology 1985;35:581–584.
  66. Beghi E, Kurland LT, Mulder DW, Wiederholt WC: Guillain-Barre syndrome: clinicoepidemiologic features and effect of influenza vaccine. Arch Neurol 1985;42:1053–1057.
  67. Ismail EA, Shabani IS, Badawi M, Sanaa H, Madi S, Al Tawari A, et al: An epidemiologic, clinical, and therapeutic study of childhood Guillain-Barre syndrome in Kuwait: is it related to the oral polio vaccine? J Child Neurol 1998;13:488–492.
  68. Rantala H, Cherry JD, Shields WD, Uhari M: Epidemiology of Guillain-Barre syndrome in children: relationship of oral polio vaccine administration to occurrence. J Pediatr 1994;124:220–223.
  69. Rantala H, Uhari M, Niemela M: Occurrence, clinical manifestations, and prognosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Arch Dis Child 1991;66:706–708.
  70. Farkkila M, Kinnunen E, Weckstrom P: Survey of Guillain-Barre syndrome in southern Finland. Neuroepidemiology 1991;10:236–241.
  71. Winer JB: Guillain Barre syndrome. Mol Pathol 2001;54:381–385.
  72. Bogliun G, Beghi E, Guillain-Barre Syndrome Registry Study Group: Validity of hospital discharge diagnoses for public health surveillance of the Guillain-Barre syndrome. Neurol Sci 2002;23:113–117.
  73. Nachamkin I, Allos BM, Ho T: Campylobacter species and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Clin Microbiol Rev 1998;11:555–567.
  74. Cheng Q, Jiang GX, Fredrikson S, Link H, Pedro-Cuesta J: Epidemiological surveillance of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Sweden, 1996–1997: network members of the Swedish GBS Epidemiology Study Group. Acta Neurol Scand 2000;101:104–110.

Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Review

Received: August 02, 2008
Accepted: September 24, 2008
Published online: December 17, 2008
Issue release date: February 2009

Number of Print Pages: 14
Number of Figures: 1
Number of Tables: 2

ISSN: 0251-5350 (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0208 (Online)

For additional information: https://www.karger.com/NED

Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.