Neonatal neutropenia. Clinical manifestations, cause, and outcome

Am J Dis Child. 1988 Nov;142(11):1161-6. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150110039016.


Neutropenia, defined as an absolute neutrophil count that falls below 2.0 x 10(9)/L, is being identified more frequently in the newborn intensive care unit and significantly influences clinical decisions regarding therapy. We prospectively identified 119 episodes of neutropenia in 87 infants (6% of admissions). Less than half of the episodes could be attributed to infections. The majority of noninfectious neutropenia episodes were related to specific perinatal events or were of unknown cause. Infants weighing less than 2500 g were more likely to have neutropenia than term infants (13% vs 3%, respectively) and less likely to have neutropenia related to bacterial infections. Short-term survival (89% vs 95%) and long-term survival (74% vs 77%) were not different in infants with infectious diseases compared with those with noninfectious diseases. Mortality was highly correlated with the need for assisted ventilation (20%) or with an absolute neutrophil count of 0.5 x 10(9)/L (24%). We conclude that the cause of neutropenia and the clinical condition must be carefully evaluated before instituting aggressive therapy for infection.

MeSH terms

  • Agranulocytosis* / blood
  • Agranulocytosis* / etiology
  • Agranulocytosis* / mortality
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Neutropenia* / blood
  • Neutropenia* / etiology
  • Neutropenia* / mortality
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Racial Groups
  • Time Factors
  • Virus Diseases / complications