Neutropenia Care at Norton Children’s

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Neutropenia is a condition marked by a low level of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell. The main role of neutrophils is to fight certain infections caused by viruses or bacteria. Neutrophils do this by surrounding and destroying the bacteria or virus.

Neutropenia happens when:

  • The body doesn’t make enough neutrophils
  • Neutrophils are destroyed after they’re made
  • Neutrophils do not move through the bloodstream and instead collect in one part of the body

Neutropenia can make a child more vulnerable to infections. Even normal bacteria from the mouth and digestive tract can cause serious illness in children with neutropenia.

Neutropenia conditions We treat

  • Inherited neutropenia, including Kostmann syndrome
  • Neutropenia associated with infection
  • Neutropenia associated with bone marrow failure and immune system disorders

Neutropenia Diagnosis

A health provider may suspect a problem with a child’s neutrophils if a child gets frequent or uncommon infections, such as blood infections. At that point, the provider may do tests to confirm neutropenia, including:

  • Complete blood count: Completed through a blood draw, this test will show the levels of each type of blood cell.
  • Bone marrow aspiration or biopsy: This can help determine why a child has low neutrophil counts.
  • Genetic testing: This may be done to see if there’s an underlying hereditary condition, such as a bone marrow disorder, causing neutropenia.
  • Review vitamin B-12 and folate levels
  • Review immune system effectiveness
  • Test blood for antibodies against neutrophils

Neutropenia Treatment

Depending on the cause and severity, neutropenia may not need treatment. Most children get neutropenia after fighting an infection. Over time, the body replenishes neutrophil levels to normal. However, until neutrophils are replenished, a child would need care for any infections they get during that time.

Children with neutropenia due to a blood, bone marrow or immune disorder will be treated for their specific condition.

Children with certain inherited types of neutropenia are treated with growth factor support. Neutrophil growth factor boosts the amount of white blood cells the body makes. It is given as an injection under the skin.

The Norton Children’s Difference

As home to the state’s leading pediatric hematology program, Norton Children’s offers sophisticated care for your child, including:

  • The state’s largest pediatric coagulation center. Our hematology specialists have extensive experience with treatments, including two decades of red cell exchange apheresis care.
  • Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, features the area’s only pediatric apheresis and photopheresis program. Apheresis can be used in treatment protocols for many blood disorders.
  • Norton Children’s is home to the area’s only blood and marrow transplant program dedicated to treating children. Stem cell transplants are used to treat a variety of blood disorders.
  • Norton Children’s Infusion Center provides families with easy access to care without having to spend a night in the hospital. The center focuses on children, but also administers infusions to adults. The center offers:
    • Blood transfusions
    • Intravenous infusion therapy for patients with specific needs
    • Red blood cell depletion to remove excess red blood cells using apheresis.
    • Red blood cell exchange – an effective therapy for sickle cell disease in which damaged red cells are removed and replaced with healthy red blood cells
    • White cell depletion, which uses apheresis to remove white blood cells when levels are dangerously high

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