Schedule your free consultation today.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

All fields are required



(833) 330-3663

Guillain Barré Statistics

Posted in Guillain-Barre Syndrome on July 31, 2021

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological disorder in which the network of nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord, known as the peripheral nervous system, are mistakenly attacked by the body’s immune system. GBS cases can range from mild, which results in brief weakness, to severe, causing paralysis. The condition is rare but can be contracted from food poisoning and impact anyone. 

How Prevalent is Guillain Barré Syndrome?

In the United States, GBS is estimated to affect about one to three persons in every 100,000 people each year. That is approximately 3,000 to 6,000 people who develop GBS. It can strike at any age but is more frequently diagnosed in adults and the elderly, and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder. GBS can vary in severity and present itself in several different forms. Ninety percent of GBS cases in North America, Europe, and the developed world are subtypes known as acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP). 

Cases of GBS have been reported worldwide, and most studies show annual incidence figures similar to those in the U.S. In Mexico, northern China, and Japan, there are mainly cases of a form of GBS called acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN) and acute motor-sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN), which make up only five to ten percent of GBS cases in the U.S. 

Who Does GBS Commonly Impact?

Up to two-thirds of patients with GBS have reportedly suffered an antecedent bacterial or viral illness prior to experiencing neurological symptoms.

  • Several studies have identified the foodborne bacteria Campylobacter jejuni (C jejuni) as the most commonly isolated pathogen in GBS. A Dutch GBS trial found that 32% of patients had a recent C jejuni infection, while studies from northern China discovered infection rates were as high as 60%. 
  • Approximately 40% of patients with the GBS subtype AIDP test positive for a C jejuni infection. 
  • Nearly 70 to 75% of patients that present with the subtype of GBS known as AMAN test positive for Campylobacter infection. 
  • Patients with the GBS subtype AMSAN are typically adults who often test positive for C jejuni infection.
  • More men are diagnosed with GBS than women. The condition has a male to female ratio of 1.5:1.
  • A Swedish study conducted on GBS patterns reported that the incidence rate of GBS decreases in women during pregnancy but increases in the months that immediately follow the delivery.
  • One study showed the GBS incidence rate for black people was 0.28 per 100,000 and 0.44 for white people, but the incidence rate of GBS seems to be similar across different races. 
  • People from all age groups have reportedly suffered from GBS, but infants have the lowest risk. In the U.S., two age groups have the highest reported cases, young adulthood (15-35 y) and middle-aged to elderly persons (50-75 y). 

There are common risk factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing GBS: 

  • Gender: Men are more likely to develop the disorder than women
  • Age: Young adolescents and adults, as well as middle-aged and the elderly, tend to be at a higher risk of developing GBS. Those 57 and older tend to experience less favorable outcomes.
  • Exposure to viruses: those suffering from a virus or infections, including influenza, Epstein-Barr, and campylobacter (typically caused by undercooked poultry).
  • Cytomegalovirus: a strain of the herpes virus.
  • HIV or Aids
  • Mycoplasma Pneumonia: also called atypical pneumonia, caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae (M pneumoniae)
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis.
  • Those undergoing surgical procedures.
  • Childhood vaccinations and influenza vaccines, though this is rare.
  • Zika virus (possibly): researchers are investigating this.

What Is the Long-Term Outlook for Those With GBS?

GBS can be a devastating disorder because of the sudden and rapid onset of symptoms that cause unexpected weakness and often paralysis. 

  • Approximately one-third of GBS patients are admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU), primarily because of respiratory failure.
  • 70% of people with GBS fully recover with time. 
  • Approximately 80% of GBS patients can walk independently after six months. 
  • 60% of GBS patients’ motor strength fully recovers by one year. 
  • 5-10% of patients with GBS face a prolonged and incomplete recovery that typically involves several months on a ventilator. 
  • About 30% of those with GBS have residual weakness after three years. 
  • 3% of people with GBS suffer a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling sensations many years after the initial attack. 
  • Approximately 15% experience long-term weakness from GBS and may require ongoing use of a walker, wheelchair, or ankle support. 
  • Persistent fatigue is often an issue even after recovering from GBS. As a result, a large percentage of patients must limit their work and home life activities. 
  • GBS is fatal in 1 of 20 cases. Typically due to breathing difficulty, infection, or cardiovascular problems. 

There is a higher risk of an adverse or more severe outcome for GBS patients if they: 

  • Had a gastrointestinal infection or diarrheal illness before GBS onset.
  • Are aged 57 or older. 
  • Have poor muscle strength in their upper extremities. 
  • Have been in the hospital longer than 11 days.
  • Are in the ICU. 
  • Require mechanical ventilation.
  • Have a Medical Research Council (MRC) score below 40.
  • Are discharged to rehabilitation.

Find Out More

GBS/CIDP Foundation International

375 East Elm Street

Conshohocken, PA 19428



A non-profit organization that helps patients with GBS in the U.S and all over the world. Their website includes: 

Overview for the Layperson

Guidelines for Physical and Occupational Therapy

Handbook for Caregivers

Caring For A Child with GBS 

Find a Local Chapter for Support

Online Pamphlets

A GBS Fact Sheet on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website.

An overview of GBS from the Mayo Clinic.

Seeking an Attorney for Your Guillain Barré Syndrome Diagnosis?

If you or someone you love is suffering from GBS and believes the symptoms began after contracting food poisoning, another party may be liable for your losses. Discuss your legal options with an experienced Guillain Barré lawyer at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC in a free consultation today.