The number of white blood cells or leukocytes can vary depending on age and body conditions, including pregnancy. Pregnant women generally have high leukocyte levels. This can be seen in the results of routine blood tests during pregnancy.
Leukocytes are part of the immune system that functions to fight infection. Therefore, an increase in the number of leukocytes is often associated with an infection. However, in pregnancy, the leukocyte count may increase even in the absence of infection. This is caused by various changes in the body of pregnant women.
Reasons for High Leukocytes in Pregnant mother
The normal leukocyte count is 5,000-10,000 cells per microliter of blood. The condition of high leukocytes (leukocytosis) is when the white blood cell count exceeds 10,000 cells per microliter. However, during pregnancy, the leukocyte count can increase to 6,000-13,000 cells per microliter. This condition begins in the first trimester and increases gradually until the last trimester.
The main reason for the increase in leukocytes in pregnant women is physical stress (biological burden) during pregnancy. Physical stress arises in response to changes that occur in the body of pregnant women, including the workload of the heart, digestive system, metabolism, and even bone density.
Physical stress stimulates the production of white blood cells to boost immunity. The number of leukocytes will become higher as you approach and during labor. Even so, you do not need to worry, because this does not harm the fetus.
Conditions of High Leukocytes in Pregnant Women That Need to be Watched
Although generally an increase in the number of leukocytes in pregnant women is a normal condition, there are several conditions that need to be watched out for and require medical attention, such as:
1. Experiencing infections and allergic reactions
When pregnant women experience infection, either due to viruses, bacteria, or parasites, the number of leukocytes can increase to exceed normal limits. This occurs as a response to the body's defenses against infectious agents. Likewise, when pregnant women experience allergies, the number of leukocytes can increase to above normal values.
2. Taking certain drugs
Some pregnant women may require special treatment to help the maturation of the fetal organs, especially pregnant women who are at risk of giving birth prematurely. In this condition, pregnant women will be given corticosteroid drugs, such as dexamethasone, which can increase leukocyte levels.
3. Having pregnancy complications
Pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, can also increase the leukocyte count during pregnancy. This happens because the condition triggers an inflammatory process in the body, which then stimulates the production of leukocytes. The more severe the condition of preeclampsia, the higher the number of leukocytes in the body of pregnant women.
4. Is a symptom of a tumor or cancer
Tumors and cancer can be the cause of high leukocytes in pregnant women. Leukocyte levels can even increase to more than 100,000 cells per microliter of blood. This situation can be a sign of leukemia or bone marrow cancer in pregnant women.
High leukocytes is a common condition in pregnant women. However, high leukocytes accompanied by fever, visual disturbances, breathing or digestion, need immediate medical attention. This is important to do to prevent dangerous risks to pregnant women and fetuses.