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Is a high White Blood Cell Count (WBC) during pregnancy harmful?

April 18, 2023

A high White Blood Cell count in pregnancy is deemed abnormal in a pregnant woman. Ahigh WBC count in pregnancy implies that there is an underlying infection in the body. It is apparent that the body of a woman undergoes a lot of shifts during pregnancy, be it emotional, physical or even mental changes. A common change that strikes fear during this path of pregnancy is a hematological alteration. These are evident changes that are seen in hemoglobin, RBC, platelets and WBC.

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What are the Symptoms of High White Blood Cell Count in Pregnant Women?

What are the Symptoms of High White Blood Cell Count in Pregnant Women?

  • A sudden rise in body temperature
  • A sense of exhaustion/Fatigue
  • Excessive sweat during sleep
  • Considerable weight loss
  • Abnormal body pain

Although the above are some signs of the body having more white blood cells during pregnancy, there have been cases where some women show no sign at all. To know if you have a problem, it is always better to practice caution and get your blood count checked by an expert to see what range you should be in. This brings up the question: What is the typical pregnancy white blood cell count? Or what is the normal WBC count in pregnancy? In pregnant women, the average white blood cell count is from 4,500 to 11,000/nm3. During pregnancy, the minimum amount to be maintained is 6,000/nm3. During the 3rd trimester, a range of 12,000 - 18,000/nm3 is safe.

Now that we know what is WBC, you must wonder why the white blood cell count increases in pregnancy or what is WBC’s normal range in pregnancy. It is a known fact that pregnancy is unique from one woman to another. Although there is no explicit reason, experts believe that the presence of a high WBC count in pregnancy is to keep the carrying mother healthy. Nonetheless, here are some reasons why the white blood cell count increases in pregnancy.

  • Simply because you are pregnant: It is no surprise that pregnancy equals stress. This can cause an increase in WBC count in pregnancy. Helping yourself to relax both physically and mentally is a must.
  • Infection: Since WBC are the fighters of infection, even a slight infection, say on your eye or throat, can spike up the WBC count in your body.
  • Inflammation or Autoimmune Disease: If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, this can be a trigger for a high WBC count. The same goes if your body sees an allergic reaction or an inflammation.
  • Leukaemia: This is the most disastrous cancer that is found in blood, the bone marrow produces a certain kind of WBC, resulting in a high count. Leukaemia is not common in pregnant women, however, if you feel you have this condition, fear not, as there are plenty of treatment options available now to keep your infant safe.

What Happens if the Count of WBC is High During Pregnancy?

We have seen what causes a high WBC count in pregnancy. What actually happens when the pregnant body sees a spike in WBC count? Can high white blood cell count affect pregnancy? Unless you have any of the indications mentioned above, a high WBC count in pregnancy means nothing. It just means that the body is coping and immunising itself to accommodate the little bundle of joy that is growing inside of you.

How is a High WBC Count in Pregnancy Diagnosed?

Several factors are taken into consideration to diagnose a high WBC count in a pregnant mother. These factors include:

  • Any medical background: The doctor may ask for any previous conditions or surgery you may have undergone.
  • Examining the body: Your healthcare professional may carry out a full body examination, to look for infections. This could involve monitoring your vital signs, such as your blood pressure, abdomen and any swelling in any part of your body.
  • Lab tests: To determine the cause of the high WBC count, doctors would advise you to perform a few straight forward lab tests. These tests include a CBC count, a culture test to specify any infection with bacteria, thyroid tests, etc.

Must Read : Hemoglobin Levels in Pregnant Women: Natural Ways to Up Your Platelet Count

How to get Treated for a High WBC Count, Should You Have one?

The initial step would be to note any apparent changes from the normal. If you find yourself having anything out of the ordinary, then get an expert to check on you. Once you are tested, the doctor will advise on how to proceed. If you are diagnosed with a high WBC count; your doctor can put you on some antibiotics to cure you of the same. In most other cases, you maybe asked to take another test or be referred to other specialists to determine the exact cause and eliminate it

Pregnancy can be a rollercoaster ride. Even though some have a smooth sail during this time, many face a lot of changes in themselves. Your main focus should be to stay calm, as we have learned that stress can cause a high white blood cell count in pregnant women. This is why mothers are advised to stay happy during this whole period. If you feel anything out of the ordinary, do not self-medicate or come to any conclusions of your own. Self-medication cannot only pose a threat to you, but you may be putting your baby in danger too. Stay calm, always keep an emergency phone number handy and immediately seek medical help should things go overboard.


1. What is a dangerously high white blood cell count?

Any count that surpasses 11000 microliters is considered dangerous in a pregnant woman.

2. Can high white blood cell count affect fertility?

An abnormal WBC count coupled with oxidative stress has been said to affect fertility.

3. Is it normal to have high WBC and neutrophils during pregnancy?

In most cases, it is considered normal when your body produces neutrophils and WBC while carrying a foetus. Caution must be exercised when these levels don’t come down to their normal desired levels.

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