Normal White Blood Cell Count in Children

Determining the count of white blood cells (WBC) is an important method to diagnose various illnesses in the body. This articles gives you an insight into the normal count of white blood cells in children.
So, what is a white blood cell exactly? The body manufactures three types of blood cells; red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The red blood cells are assigned with the job of transporting oxygen to different parts of the body, and the platelets are there to help the blood clot and avoid blood loss. And talking about the white blood cells, they help in protecting the body against infection. In other words, they form the back bone of the immune system. Both the blood and the lymphatic system contains these cells. Leukocytes is another name for these cells. An important fact to be known is, in healthy individuals, the leukocytes form about 1% of the blood, while in ailing people, the amount is significantly higher. That is why the ratio of these cells, serves as an important pointer in the diagnosis of various kinds of illnesses. These cells are produced in the stem cells of the bone marrow.

What is Normal WBC Count?

As the name suggests, white blood cell count refers to the number of these cells per volume of blood. The unit may be expressed in thousands in a microliter or millions in a liter of blood. These cells exist in five types in the body. These include neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils. According to experts, the normal white blood cell count in children is the same as that in adults. It is only during the infant stage that the value may differ.

Leukocytes Count [cells per microliter (mcL)]
Total Count 4500 - 10000
Neutrophil Count 2,500 - 6,000
Lymphocyte Count 1,500 - 3,000
Basophil Count 15 - 50
Eosinophil Count 50 - 250
Monocyte Count 300 - 500

The WBC count is the maximum in infants. It comes up to about 9000 - 30000 cells per microliter (mcL). Now there are various conditions which can make the count less or more than normal. Let's look at those in the following.

High White Blood Cell Count

As the name suggests, a high white blood cell count refers to an increase in the number of leukocytes circulating in the blood. A measure that is above 10,000 cells per mcL is known to be a high WBC count, or leukocytosis. This threshold in children, may vary according to age.

Leukocytosis may mean that the body has been invaded by an infection, and it is trying to fight it off, by increasing the WBCs. It may also signify a reaction of some drug that has increased the count, or some disease of the bone marrow that is causing the excess production of WBCs at an abnormal high rate. Leukocytosis may also indicate an immune system disorder.

Low White Blood Cell Count

The condition of low WBC count is also known as leukopenia, and it is when the count drops below 4500 cells per microliter (mcL). Most factors that cause low WBC count are associated with the bone marrow. One reason could be some kind of viral infection that has affected the function of the bone marrow, or some kind of congenital disorders that have done the same. Cancer also comes into picture, and so do autoimmune disorders, which are known to destroy bone marrow cells. In some cases, there could be certain infections which are so overwhelming that they use up the WBCs at a rate faster than what can be produced. And another reason could be a drug that destroys the bone marrow or the bone marrow cells thus, resulting in a marred production of white blood cells.

A case of high or low white blood cell is not a medical condition, but an indicant of underlying diseases in the body. And such cases are usually found when a patient is tested for a condition he/she is already suffering from. Once the condition is treated with appropriate methods, it is most likely that the WBC count would go back to normal.
By Rajib Singha
Published: 2/25/2011
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