Blood that flows through the body is whole blood. It is composed of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. The white blood cells are the army; they detect and fight infection. In children as in all people, the white blood cell count reveals whether an individual is fighting infection.
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Newborns have the highest white blood cell count. Typical newborns have a count ranging from 9,000 to 30,000 leukocytes. Leukocyte is another name for a white blood cell.
After the first couple of weeks of life, white blood cell count is not age specific. A healthy child and a healthy full-grown adult will have counts that mirror one another. The normal leukocyte count is 4,000 to 10,800 in a healthy human.
A low white blood cell count is below 3,500. Reasons for the decrease can include an infection that is using up the white blood cells faster than they can regenerate; cancer; congenital and autoimmune disorders; and medications. A child with a low white blood cell count may not exhibit any of the symptoms of fighting off an illness; the only cue may be a fever of 38.1 degrees C or above. If you have any reason to believe your child's count has fallen, such as a history of this issue, and your child has a fever, call your paediatrician immediately.
Typically, if a child's white blood cell count is high, the body is producing an army to fight an infection. Elevated levels can be due to a bone marrow disease or an immune system disorder, or it can be a reaction to medication. Typical childhood diseases associated with a high white blood cell count include whooping cough and measles. If your child has a high white blood cell count, her paediatrician will order tests to pinpoint the cause.
Why Get Tested
Typically, a blood cell count is done each year at your child's physical just to ensure that your child is indeed healthy and nothing unseen is lurking. Outside of the normal physical, a white blood cell count can be ordered to test for an infection, reveal a disease or monitor the progress of a treatment for a disease or infection. If the white blood cell count is within the normal range, the treatment is a success.
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