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Blood Test: Reticulocyte Count

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
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What Is a Blood Test?

By taking and testing a small sample of a person’s blood, doctors can check for many kinds of diseases and conditions. Blood tests help doctors check how the body’s organs are working and see if medical treatments are helpful.

To help your child get ready for a blood test, find out if they need to fast (not eat or drink) or should stop taking medicines before the test. Explain what to expect during the test. If your child is anxious about it, work together on ways to stay calm.

What Is a Reticulocyte Count?

Reticulocytes are immature red blood cells (cells that aren't yet fully developed). A reticulocyte (rih-TIK-yuh-low-site) count measures the number of reticulocytes in the blood. This helps doctors see how many new red blood cells the bone marrow is making.

Why Are Reticulocyte Counts Done?

Doctors order a reticulocyte count if someone has a low number of red blood cells, called anemia. The reticulocyte count can help doctors know if the bone marrow is working well to make new red blood cells. Let the doctor know if your child has had a blood transfusion. This can affect the reticulocyte count test.

What if I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the reticulocyte count or what the test results mean, talk to your doctor.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: September 2021