White blood cells, which are referred to as leukocytes, are responsible for helping to fight off infections from fungi, bacteria, and viruses. When a child’s body produces too many or too few leukocytes, he or she is suffering from a pediatric white blood cell disorder.
Leukopenia results in a low white blood cell count, and this means that a child will have too few white blood cells circulating throughout the blood. The risk of infection increases when this condition lasts over a long period of time.
Leukocytosis refers to a high white blood cell count, and it means that there are too many white blood cells moving around in the bloodstream. This usually occurs because of an infection, but other conditions and diseases could cause this disorder to occur long-term.
Other pediatric white blood cell disorders include eosinophilia, neutropenia, lymphocytopenia, basophilic disorders, and monocyte disorders.
The symptoms that a child will suffer from will depend upon the specific white blood cell disorder in the body.
Some of the common symptoms that are associated with not having enough white blood cells, or having white blood cells that do not function correctly, include:
Some white blood cell disorders will also have unique symptoms, and that will help a doctor pinpoint the problem and provide the correct treatment plan.
Genetic defects cause white blood cell disorders involving the bone marrow, leading to an increase or a deficiency in white blood counts. Viral infections interfere with the bone marrow’s role of generating enough white blood cells to defend the body against intruders. Children born with this disorder have an autoimmune disease that attacks healthy cells by mistake.
Although high white blood counts are not a disease, it indicates an underlying disorder caused by infection, stress, inflammation, allergies or trauma. Sometimes, a high white blood count is a reaction from a medical treatment, medication or drug.
Illnesses or diseases like tuberculosis, whooping cough and leukemia lead to low white blood cell disorders as infections disrupt the production of white blood cells. Parvovirus is a common infection in children, shutting down the bone marrow process. HIV virus and exposure to harmful chemicals also cause the decrease in white blood cell production.
Treatment will depend upon the underlying cause of the disorder, as well as the severity of it. For example, antibiotics can be used to fight an infection, while stem cell transplant might be necessary for a severe congenital disease.
Genetics cannot be avoided, but awareness of your family’s history helps to pre-determine the risks associated with this condition. Get as much family information about the condition before you talk with your doctor. The family information helps to indicate a pattern related to a specific blood disorder or disease.
Medications known to destroy white blood cells include antibiotics or corticosteroids used to care for chronic conditions in children. They suppress the bone marrow function, contributing to serious illnesses. Talk with your doctor before administering these remedies, there may be a healthier option.
Keeping your body healthy is the best prevention to ward off or diminish this disorder. Learn more about the nutrients your bone marrow needs to produce enough white blood cells. Some think a child’s diet may be deficient, slowing down the percentage of new white blood cell generation needed to replace the old white cells.