Neutropenia (noo-troe-PEE-nee-uh) is an abnormally low level of neutrophils. Neutrophils are a common type of white blood cell important to fighting off infections — particularly those caused by bacteria.
For adults, counts of less than 1,500 neutrophils per microliter of blood are considered to be neutropenia. For children, the cell count indicating neutropenia varies with age.
Some people have lower-than-average neutrophil counts, but not an increased risk of infection. In these situations their neutropenia isn't a concern. Neutrophil counts less than 1,000 neutrophils per microliter — and especially counts of less than 500 neutrophils per microliter — are always considered to be neutropenia, where even the normal bacteria from your mouth and digestive tract can cause serious infections.
Jan. 11, 2018
- Kumar V, et al. Diseases of white blood cells, lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus. In: Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
- Marx JA, et al., eds. Anemia, polycythemia, and white blood cells disorders. In: Rosen's Emergency Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec.7, 2015.
- AskMayoExpert. Leuokepenia (adults). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- Kliegman RM, et al., eds. Leukopenia. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
- Berliner N. Approach to the adult with unexplained neutropenia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 16, 2015.
- Coates TD. Drug-induced neutropenia and agranulocytosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 7, 2016.
- Wingard JR. Prophylaxis of infection during chemotherapy-induced neutropenia in high-risk adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 7, 2016.
- Friedman ND, et al. General principles of infection control. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 7, 2016.