Our body produces white blood cells, known as Leukocytes, as a means to combat things like bacterial infection and viruses as well as other foreign invaders. There are actually multiple types of white blood cells that perform different disease-fighting activities throughout the body.
When a child is stricken with a white blood cell disorder it means they have too few or too many white blood cells of a particular type. The resulting imbalance can lead to a variety of serious health problems.
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology – Diagnosing White Blood Cell Disorders There a number of test doctors may perform to diagnose white blood cell disorders in children. These may include: Blood Tests – blood tests are one of the easiest ways to check blood cell counts. Additionally, blood tests can check other cell counts, mineral and nutrient levels and give clinicians insight into the performance of the organs. Depending on the type of blood test they can determine if diet, lifestyle or medications are affecting how your body is working.
Bone Marrow Biopsy – A bone marrow biopsy draws a sample from within the marrow where cells are produced. The sample is taken using a thin needle. The cell/tissue sample is examined under a microscope to check cell count, health, malformation, etc.
Other tests such as imaging may also be utilized to confirm a diagnosis. Due to potential damage to the white cells and immune system, radiation exposure is carefully controlled during imaging procedures.
Pediatric Hematology – Types of White Blood Cell Disorders Low White Blood Cell Count A low white cell count, known as leukopenia, means the body has a limited supply of disease-fighting white cells (leukocytes) circulating within the body. Typically the body is behind on production of these cells. When white cell counts are low for extended periods, the risk of infection rises and are often caused by other diseases or medical conditions.
Neutropenia occurs when the body becomes low on neutrophils, a white blood cell type designed to fight infection related to fungi and bacteria. The problem can stem from the marrow, where white cell production is reduced or it stem from a disease within the blood that destroys the white cells. Some medications have been known to cause neutropenia.
Lymphocytopenia Lymphocytopenia is a reduction in lymphocytes in the body. Among other tasks, lymphocytes are white cells that protect the body from viral infections. This blood disease is sometimes inherited however it can stem from medication side-effects or in associated with other diseases.
Monocyte Disorders The monocytes in our body help to get rid of tissue that is dead or show signs of damage. These cells regulate the immune response of the body. Outside influence such as infection, cancer, autoimmune diseases and other conditions can result in an increased number of monocytes. Treatments for other diseases such as chemotherapy along with toxins can have a reduction effect on monocytes.
Pediatric Hematology & Oncology – Treatment of White Blood Cell Disorders The treatment offered in pediatric hematology will vary based on the type of white cell disorder. In some cases the white blood cell disorder is a side effect of another disease or treatment. The underlying illness will need to be treated to correct the blood cell disorder. For others the disorder relates to problems within the marrow and the production of the cells. Specialists in pediatric hematology and oncology will take the time to confirm a diagnosis, determine the underlying cause and follow appropriate treatment protocols.