You are scratching your head wondering what this term has to do with your pregnancy. Aren’t you?
Well, neutrophils are cells in the blood that are responsible for immunity. Now you know this definitely has something to do with your pregnancy.
In other terms, neutrophils are a type of blood cells generated in the bone marrow.
The neutrophils travel in the bloodstream to the areas of infection. Once the neutrophils are in the infection area, the neutrophils ingest and neutralize the attacking bacteria.
Importance of Neutrophils
Pregnancy causes functional and structural changes in the body; this occurs as the body adapts to the need of the developing baby, placenta, uterus and increased level of hormones.
The increase in white blood cells often called physiological leukocytosis occurs at this stage.
Neutrophils are one type of white blood cells (leukocytes). Their rise in blood indicates infection or inflammation in the body.
In the early stages of pregnancy, the neutrophils may be high since the developing fetus is considered as a foreign body by the immune system of mother.
Sometimes high levels of neutrophils in the early pregnancy could be a signal of a risk of miscarriage, while a spike in neutrophils in the last trimester could be a warning of imminent premature birth.
Causes of inflammation during pregnancy
The inflammation can cause a rise in neutrophil count. The specific cases that can lead to intense inflammation can be:
- Alcoholic intoxication: This occurs if the mother-to-be is alcoholic before and during the pregnancy
- Death of body tissues: This can be caused by severe burns, disease, injury, or failure of the blood supply.
- Acute infection: acute disease causes an increase in neutrophils. These ranges from tuberculosis, tonsillitis, pneumonia, ENT diseases, sepsis, and appendicitis may be accompanied by moderate or severe neutropenia.
- Stress: When the mother is exposed to physical or emotional stress, the body releases the white blood cells as a defense mechanism. Try to avoid as much stress as possible. Meditation and breathing exercises always help manage stressful situations.
- Inflammation: Diseases and allergies that cause inflammation include asthma, arthritis and dermatitis. They lead to increase production of WBC.
- Strenuous exercise: Alters the distribution of white blood cells hence doubling neutrophil
What is the normal blood count during pregnancy?
Below is the normal range of white blood cell count during pregnancy.
- First trimester 5.7 to 13.6 x 109/L
- Second trimester 5.6 to 14.8 x 109/L
- Third trimester: 5.6 to 16.9 x 109/L
There should be no cause for alarm if your WBC falls under this range. However if you still weary, consult the doctor regarding it.
What causes an increase in neutrophils?
During pregnancy, the neutrophil count is similar to a normal person. The relative count of neutrophils in pregnant women ranges from 40% to 70%.
There are occasional spikes in the WBC count associated with certain instances. Random spikes could occur after a large meal or strenuous exercise.
Diseases that increase neutrophils during pregnancy
The major cause of increased neutrophil count is infections:
- Chronic and acute bacterial infections like measles and whooping cough cause high WBC during pregnancy
- Viral infections such as chicken pox, herpes
- Parasitic infections like hepatic amoebiasis
- Fungal infections
Diagnosis of high neutrophils
Increased neutrophils are only noticed when it’s extremely elevated.
In these instances, patients may experience slurred speech, delirium, visual blurring, impaired hearing or dizziness, stupor, localized inflammation, or a headache
How to manage increased Neutrophils
The doctor should be able to administer specific therapy to the underlying cause of neutrophils. This condition requires urgent treatment once it’s identified.
The doctor could refer you to a hematologist should they associate neutrophil with abnormalities of the underlying hematological disorder.
Can there be a decrease in neutrophils?
Yes, it’s possible. The reverse process results in something called the neutropenia. People who suffer from neutropenia have a low number of cells.
The neutrophils protect the immune system by attacking the bacteria that invade the body
Symptoms of neutropenia
There are no symptoms caused to indicate this condition. Most pregnant mothers discover that they are suffering from neutropenia by the sheer fact that they have a blood test for unrelated reasons.
Neutropenia can occur as a result of exposure to chemotherapy. Some women suffer from underlying causes of neutropenia.
Opportunistic infections often occur as a complication of neutropenia. These infections occur most often in mucous membranes or inside of the mouth and skin. This is often an indication of a low neutrophil count.
Neutropenia is caused by:
- Severe diseases, infections and viral diseases like flu, hepatitis, and measles
- Injuries/lesions in the bone marrow: occurs after taking certain medications, or irradiation.
- Blood diseases like leukemia, and anemia, a deficiency of cobalamin.
In conclusion, the visit to the gynecologist is very important for future mothers. The experts get to check for pathological conditions in the first trimester.
Remember, if you’re pregnant and have questions, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about tests and prescriptions.