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Does high WBC count affect pregnancy?

Answered by: Dr. Shirish Kumar
Consultant Haematologist,
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital,
New Delhi

Q. Does high white blood cells (WBC) during pregnancy have any effects on the baby and the mother? WBC count: 14,000 (normal: 4,500-11,000) Neutrophils: 80% (normal: 50-70%) Lymphocytes: 11% (normal: 15-35%) Eosinophils: 1% (normal: 1-3%) Basophils: 0% (normal: 0-2%) Monocytes: 3% (normal: 0-13%) The RBC, haemoglobin, MCV, MCH, MCHC, MPV and platelet count are in normal range; only the WBC differs.

A.  Pregnancy leads to many functional (physiological) and structural (anatomical) changes in the body. They occur due to the following:
  1. Needs of the developing baby, placenta and the uterus.
  2. Increasing levels of pregnancy hormones especially progesterone and oestrogen.
Physiological leukocytosis (increase in white blood cells) refers to a total leukocyte count above the normal, without the association of any known disease process. It is documented that the number of leukocytes in peripheral blood increases considerably during pregnancy. The WBC count may increase up to 15,000/µl (or even higher during labour and following delivery). The total mass of WBCs also increases to fill the increased blood volume. The reason for the increase in WBCs is unknown but is probably a hormonal response. In case you have no fever, sore throat, urinary problem or other symptoms suggestive of an infection, these counts are normal.

A.  Pregnancy leads to many functional (physiological) and structural (anatomical) changes in the body. They occur due to the following:
  1. Needs of the developing baby, placenta and the uterus.
  2. Increasing levels of pregnancy hormones especially progesterone and oestrogen.
Physiological leukocytosis (increase in white blood cells) refers to a total leukocyte count above the normal, without the association of any known disease process. It is documented that the number of leukocytes in peripheral blood increases considerably during pregnancy. The WBC count may increase up to 15,000/µl (or even higher during labour and following delivery). The total mass of WBCs also increases to fill the increased blood volume. The reason for the increase in WBCs is unknown but is probably a hormonal response. In case you have no fever, sore throat, urinary problem or other symptoms suggestive of an infection, these counts are normal.

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