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What Is the Involved in the Management of Neutropenia in Children?

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  • Written By: Rebecca Harkin
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Management of neutropenia in children varies based on the cause of this condition. If this medical problem is caused by medication, then use of the drugs will be stopped or the dose will be lowered to see if this produces a positive impact on the neutropenia. When neutropenia is caused by a severe infection, usually endured over a long period of time, antibiotics or medications will be given to manage the symptoms and allow the patient to recover more quickly. For severe neutropenia, usually caused by a glitch in the production of neutrophils in the bone marrow, treatment consists of granulocyte colony stimulating factors (G-CSFs) to augment the synthesis of neutrophils. When an autoimmune response against neutrophils causes neutropenia in children, treatment is to suppress the immune system using steroids.

Many chemotherapy drugs can curb the activity of bone marrow and decrease the production of neutrophils, leading to neutropenia. The most common treatment for this cause is to decrease or spread out the drug treatments or, if possible, completely discontinue use of the drug until the neutropenia resolves. When this is not possible, children will often be hospitalized to minimize their risk of infection, observed closely for any signs of infection, and be treated with prophylactic antibiotics. Parents of children afflicted with this type of neutropenia need to be provided with a list of warning signs of infection or signs that the neutropenia is worsening and watch their child with vigilance.

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Prolonged or severe infections, especially in infants and children, can weaken the body and deplete it of neutrophils, causing neutropenia in children. When this is the case, the child will be treated with strong antibiotics to hasten the destruction of the foreign invader. Drugs may also be prescribed to reduce the symptoms and allow the child to get adequate rest to rebuild the body. When the neutropenia in children is really severe, the child may be hospitalized so that intravenous antibiotics can be administered and the child’s condition can be closely observed.

Childhood neutropenia, caused by a defect in the synthesis of neutrophils, is treated by initiating G-CFS treament. G-CFSs are synthetic hormones that jump-start the production of neutrophils by the bone marrow. This treatment is administered, usually once a day, through an intravenous injection. Neutropenia in children caused by an autoimmune response that destroys neutrophils is usually treated with steroids. These drugs suppress the immune system and allow the body to rebuild the concentration of neutrophils.

Symptoms of neutropenia in children are often hard to read. When a child has been treated with chemotherapy drugs or other medications that are known to cause neutropenia, parents should be vigilant for any signs of infection. If one is noticed, the pediatrician or oncologist should be called immediately. The most common sign of neutropenia in children is becoming sick frequently and with greater severity. Some children may also have swollen or bleeding gums.

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