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    WBC Count in Pregnancy: What is Normal and When to See a Doctor


    WBC Count in Pregnancy: What is Normal and When to See a Doctor

    Updated on 6 September 2023

    Medically Reviewed by

    Dr. Shruti Tanwar

    C-section & gynae problems - MBBS| MS (OBS & Gynae)

    Pregnancy is a journey filled with countless changes in a woman's body. One crucial aspect that healthcare professionals closely monitor is the white blood cell (WBC) count. White blood cells play a vital role in defending the body against infections and inflammation. But when it comes to WBC count in pregnancy, what is normal and when should you be concerned?

    In this article, we will understand the normal WBC count in pregnancy, what are leukocytes, the potential causes of abnormalities, and when it's crucial to seek medical attention.

    What is WBC Count?

    During pregnancy, it is common for doctors to monitor various aspects of a woman's health, including her white blood cell (WBC) count. White blood cells are an important part of the immune system and play a crucial role in fighting off infections and diseases. The WBC count measures the number of these cells in a specific volume of blood. It is usually expressed as a count per microliter (µL) of blood.

    The body produces leukocytes or WBCs (white blood cells) to fight infections. WBCs include lymphocytes, neutrophils, basophils, and eosinophils. Combined, these WBCs protect the body from illnesses and other health issues.

    Leukocytes in Urine Pregnancy: What it Means

    Leukocytes are white blood cells that can indicate the presence of an infection or inflammation in the urinary tract. During pregnancy, the hormonal and physiological changes can make pregnant women more susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs). Therefore, testing for leukocytes in the urine can help identify any potential issues early on.

    WBC Count in Pregnancy: What is Normal

    The WBC normal range in pregnancy can vary slightly from non-pregnant individuals. A normal WBC count during pregnancy is typically between 5,000 and 15,000 white blood cells per microliter of blood.

    However, it is important to note that these values may differ depending on the laboratory conducting the test and the trimester of pregnancy. It is always best to consult with a healthcare provider to interpret the results accurately.

    What are the Causes of High WBC Count in Pregnancy?

    A high WBC count during pregnancy can be attributed to various factors.

    1. Increased blood volume

    One common cause is pregnancy itself. As the body adapts to support the growing fetus, it undergoes several changes, including an increase in blood volume. This increase in blood volume can lead to a slight elevation in the WBC count.

    2. Trichomoniasis

    This is an STI (sexually transmitted infection) infection caused by a parasite called Trichomonas Vaginalis. It can cause leukocytes in urine during pregnancy and spread from person to person.

    3. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

    UTIs can cause an increase in white blood cells. A urine test can detect an increase in white blood cells caused by UTIs.

    4. Pyelonephritis

    This is a bacterial infection of the kidneys that can cause high WBC count during pregnancy. The bacteria can spread from the bladder to the kidneys, leading to inflammation and infection.

    6. Genital infections

    During pregnancy, it is common to experience genital infections such as bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis, and vaginal yeast infection. Hormonal fluctuations are often the root of these conditions, which can cause pyuria (white blood cells in urine).

    7. Cystitis (bladder inflammation)

    If a pregnant woman has cystitis, she may experience pain or a burning sensation while urinating. Cystitis can also result in an increase in leukocytes in her urine.

    You may also like: What are the Reasons for Epithelial Cells in Urine?

    High White Blood Cell Count Pregnancy Symptoms

    The symptoms of leukocytes in urine pregnancy can vary depending on the underlying cause. However, some common symptoms include the following:

    How are Leukocytes in Urine During Pregnancy Diagnosed?

    The diagnosis of leukocytes in urine pregnancy is made through a urine test. Below are the most common ways to detect leukocytes in urine:

    1. Urine dipstick test

    This test uses a small strip of paper dipped into the urine. The paper has chemicals that will change colour if leukocytes are present.

    Negative test: If the strips did not change colour, it means there are no leukocytes in the urine.

    Positive test: If the strip exhibits a change in colour within 30 seconds to two minutes (based on the brand), it is considered an affirmative result.

    2. Leukocyte Esterase Urine Dipstick Test

    This test is like the urine dipstick test. It measures the amount of leukocyte esterase in the urine. A sample of urine may be collected and tested for leukocytes. This sample can help detect any underlying infection or inflammation in the body.

    The urine sample may also be tested for other substances, such as bacteria or protein, to provide a comprehensive assessment of urinary health. If leukocytes are detected, further investigation may be necessary to determine the underlying cause, such as a urine culture to identify the specific bacteria causing an infection.

    What are the Risks of Increased WBC in Pregnancy?

    Following are some risks associated with high WBCs or leukocytes in urine during pregnancy:

    The fetus may also suffer from a range of complications due to this, such as:

    How to Treat Increased WBC Count in Pregnancy?

    The treatment for an increased WBC count during pregnancy depends on the underlying cause. In cases of urinary tract infections, antibiotics may be prescribed to clear the infection. Respiratory infections may require rest, fluids, and, in some cases, antiviral or antimicrobial medications.

    Serious conditions like preeclampsia may necessitate close monitoring, medication to control blood pressure, and potentially early delivery if the mother's or baby's health is at risk. It is essential to follow the guidance of a healthcare provider for appropriate treatment and management.

    How to Prevent High WBC Count in Pregnancy?

    Preventing a high WBC count during pregnancy involves taking steps to maintain overall health and reduce the risk of infections.

    • Good hygiene practices, including regular handwashing, can help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.
    • Staying hydrated, maintaining a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise can also support a healthy immune system.
    • Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages.
    • Wear cotton underwear or breathable fabrics.
    • Avoid douching or using scented products on the genitals.
    • Attending prenatal appointments regularly and going for scheduled scans and ultrasounds.
    • Following all the prescribed treatments or medications recommended by your doctor.

    The Bottomline

    In conclusion, monitoring and understanding WBC count in pregnancy, what is normal and the implications of leukocytes in urine pregnancy is an important aspect of prenatal care. While a slightly high WBC count in pregnancy can be normal, significant increases may indicate underlying issues that require attention. It is crucial for pregnant women to communicate any concerning symptoms or abnormalities to their healthcare provider for proper evaluation and management. By working closely with a healthcare team, women can ensure the best possible outcomes for themselves and their babies during pregnancy.


    1. Dockree S, Shine B, Pavord S, Impey L, Vatish M. (2021). White blood cells in pregnancy: reference intervals for before and after delivery. EBioMedicine.

    2. Wu K, Gong W, Ke HH, Hu H, Chen L. (2022). Impact of elevated first and second trimester white blood cells on prevalence of late-onset preeclampsia. Heliyon.

    3. Mårdh PA, Novikova N, Niklasson O, Bekassy Z, Skude L. (2003). Leukocyte esterase activity in vaginal fluid of pregnant and non-pregnant women with vaginitis/vaginosis and in controls. NCBI

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    Medically Reviewed by

    Dr. Shruti Tanwar

    C-section & gynae problems - MBBS| MS (OBS & Gynae)

    Written by



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