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