Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a (sub)acute polyradiculoneuropathy, which may occur following immunization. To interpret the occurrence of GBS after introduction of large-scale immunization programmes, it is important to define recent background incidence rates (IRs) of GBS. We used a general practitioner electronic medical record database to assess age-specific GBS IRs between 1996 and 2008 in The Netherlands. All possible GBS cases were manually reviewed. Validated incident cases were reviewed by a neurologist (B. J.) for diagnostic certainty using the GBS case definition of the Brighton Collaboration (BC). In a population of 638,891 persons, we identified 23 validated incident GBS cases (mean age 46 years). IR was 1.14 per 100,000 person years (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.67-1.61) and was lower for people under 50 years (0.76; 95%CI 0.41-1.32) compared with elderly of 50 years or older (1.80; 95%CI 0.98-3.05). Only six cases fulfilled level 1 or 2 of diagnostic certainty of the BC case definition. IR of GBS increases with age. As vaccinations are often targeted at specific age groups, age-specific rates should be used to monitor GBS observed versus expected rates after introduction of large-scale vaccination programmes.

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Keywords Guillain-Barré syndrome, incidence rate, vaccination
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van der Maas, N.A.T, Kramer, M.A, Jacobs, B.C, van Soest, E.M, Dieleman, J.P, Kemmeren, J.M, … Sturkenboom, M.C.J.M. (2011). Guillain-Barré syndrome: Background incidence rates in the Netherlands. Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System, 16(3), 243–249. doi:10.1111/j.1529-8027.2011.00356.x