Neutropenia (noo-treh-PEE-nee-eh) is when the blood doesn't have enough of a type of white blood cell. These cells, called neutrophils, fight bacteria. Bacteria are germs that cause infections. Without enough neutrophils, serious infections can happen.
Most children with neutropenia need medical care right away if they have any signs of an infection. Common signs include fevers, spreading redness around a cut, and shivering or chills. With quick treatment, most infections in children with neutropenia get better.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Neutropenia?
Compared with other kids, a child with neutropenia may have infections:
that are more severe
that get worse quickly
The symptoms depend on what kind of infection the child has (for example, ear pain in a child with an ear infection).
What Causes Neutropenia?
Someone with neutropenia has a low number of neutrophils (NOO-treh-filz) in the bloodstream.
Treatment for neutropenia depends on its cause and how severe it is. Not all cases need treatment.
Doctors use the ANC (absolute neutrophil count) to help them make decisions about treatment. The ANC is a blood test that measures the number of neutrophils. The lower the number is, the more likely the child is to get serious infections.
Treatment, when needed, can include:
correcting the neutropenia through:
injections of granulocyte colony-stimulating growth factor (G-CSF) to push the bone marrow to make more neutrophils
steroid medicines to stop the body's immune system from attacking the neutrophils
white blood cell transfusions to give the child more infection-fighting cells
Having a child with a serious medical condition can feel overwhelming for any family. But you don't have to go it alone. Talk to anyone on the care team about ways to find support. You also can visit online sites for more information and support, such as: