During pregnancy, it is the duty of the parents to keep in check the health of the mother and the baby. There are lots of parameters that need to be checked regularly. The WBC or white blood cell count is one such parameter.
What is a white blood cell? WBCs or white blood cells are also known as leukocytes, and they make up 1% of the blood in a human’s body. WBCs are the ones that are responsible for protecting us against bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The bone marrow is responsible for producing more WBCs while the body is fighting with an infection.
But is having a high white blood cell count dangerous during pregnancy? Or is it one such other thing that changes while a woman is pregnant? Well, we are going to discuss all about that in this article. So, read along.
What Is A High Blood Cell Count?
In an adult non-pregnant female, it is considered to be a high WBC count when the count goes over 11,000 per microliter of blood. This condition is known as leukocytosis. The usual range generally goes for an adult female from 4,500 to 11,000 in 1 microlitre of blood.
In a pregnant woman, the average range should be 5,700 to 15,000 per 1 microlitre of blood. The upper limit is mostly around 13,800 to 19,600. Doctors regularly monitor the WRB count during pregnancy to detect if there is any infection or inflammation. An increased count of WBC also happens because the woman is carrying the fetus.
Back in 20321, a study was conducted among 24,318 pregnant women who had their WBC count increased between the 8th and 40th week of pregnancy. Certain forms of WBCs increase while others stay stable or decrease as well.
While a pregnant woman may not have leukocytosis, the stress and the changes a body goes through during this time might lead to short-term leukocytosis.
Is It Harmful To Have A High WBC Count In Pregnancy?
A high blood cell count during pregnancy is mostly normal, and doctors do not recommend any treatment for it unless any kind of blood test suggests any kind of infection. If a person is showing some other kind of symptoms like high blood pressure or fever, then doctors check for something serious.
High white blood cell count is often associated with preeclampsia, which is a condition that mostly develops during the third trimester of gestation and makes the blood pressure rise suddenly.
Preeclampsia is a serious condition and needs to be treated immediately. In this condition, the WBC count rises because of the increased inflammatory response.
Symptoms Of High WBC Count While A Woman Is Pregnant
A high white blood cell count during pregnancy might not always come up with some symptoms. Doctors might look for the underlying symptoms or treat it when the pregnant woman shows the following symptoms.
- Shortness of breath
- Unexpected weight loss
- Vomiting or nausea
- Excessive bleeding
- Bruising easily
- Night sweats
- Sudden temperature rise
Though the above-mentioned signs are seen in pregnant women when their WBC count increases, there have been cases when a woman had no symptoms even after having an increased WBC count.
To know if you have an increased WBC count, it is always best to get your WBC count checked while you are getting other blood tests done. Consult a doctor to see whether the count is in range or not. Now that we know the symptoms and the optimum range, it is common to wonder what are the causes behind the WBC rising. Let’s get into that.
Cause Of High WBC During Pregnancy
When a pregnant woman gets their WBC count high, their neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, get higher than usual, and that happens mostly because of the infection. The inflammatory response of the body is to increase immature cells and then leave the bone marrow and enter the bloodstream.
There are various reasons behind a high white blood cell count.
- Kidney failure
- Severe emotional and physical stress, like surgery, injury, or fever.
- Thyroid problems
- Cancer, like lymphoma and leukemia
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Excessive exercise
- Certain forms of medication like
How To Diagnose WBC Count During Pregnancy?
There are numerous factors that are considered while making a diagnosis of a high blood count during pregnancy. The factors include:
Any Medical Condition
The doctor could look for some previous condition or ask about your medical history or if you have undergone any form of surgery recently.
Examining The Soon-To-Be Mother
The doctor or the healthcare professional might conduct an examination to check if there is any infection. This might involve monitoring the vitals, like your abdomen and your blood pressure, or looking for any swelling in any part of the body.
To find out the cause behind the rise in WBC count, doctors often advise some lab tests. These tests often include a culture test for specifically knowing if there is a bacterial infection, CBC, or thyroid tests.
When To Consult A Doctor
A pregnanct woman should always be in contact with her healthcare provider and get regular check-ups done. A WBC count falls under that. Doing regular tests is essential during pregnancy, and checking the WBC count is a part of it.
But if the pregnant woman develops some symptoms of infection or is not feeling well for some reason, it is best to get checked by a doctor. The doctor would know what is wrong, if it can be treated with medicines, or if further tests are required.
In general, during pregnancy, it is normal to have a high white blood cell count during pregnancy. It goes back to the normal level after the delivery. A study showed that on the first day after delivery, the WBC count increases significantly, going from 8,400 to 23,200 per 1 microlitre of blood.
On average, a woman who chooses vaginal delivery has a higher amount of WBC count than a woman who chooses cesarean delivery. By the first week after delivery, the WBC count starts to return back to the level that they had during pregnancy and then gradually decreases to the normal level.
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