Mild forms of Guillain-Barré syndrome in an epidemiologic survey in The Netherlands

Neurology. 2000 Feb 8;54(3):620-5. doi: 10.1212/wnl.54.3.620.


Objective: Assessment of incidence rates of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in the Netherlands over a 10-year period; investigation of a relationship between possible seasonality in GBS and the occurrence of preceding infections; and determination of distinctive characteristics in patients with GBS who are only mildly affected (able to walk unaided at nadir).

Method: Records of patients with GBS admitted between 1987 and 1996 from all 45 hospitals in the southwest Netherlands were evaluated, covering a population of 4.2 million inhabitants.

Results: A total of 476 patients met National Institute for Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke criteria for GBS. This resulted in a crude incidence rate (IR) of 1.18/100,000 inhabitants. This IR increased linearly with age (p < 0.001). Men were more frequently affected than women (p < 0.001). No seasonal preponderance for GBS, nor for any of the preceding infections, was found. Patients under 50 years of age (p < 0.001) and men (p = 0.01) were more frequently found in the mildly affected group. In both groups a preceding infection was reported in 70% of the cases. In the severely affected group, serologic evidence for infection with Campylobacter jejuni, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, or Mycoplasma pneumoniae was found more frequently than in the mildly affected group (41% versus 16%, p = 0.001).

Conclusions: Overall IR in the Netherlands are similar to those found in other studies. The incidence increases linearly with age and men are more frequently affected than women. Distinctive characteristics for mildly and severely affected patients were found regarding age, sex, and preceding infections. This suggests that other infectious agents or host factors may be involved in mild forms of GBS.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prognosis