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Cerebrospinal fluid leucocyte counts in healthy neonates


Objectives: To determine the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) white blood cell (WBC) count of normal term neonates, and compare the CSF WBC profile of normal and symptomatic infants without infection of the central nervous system (CNS).

Method: Neonates were included if (a) they were at risk of congenital Toxoplasma infection and had undergone a lumbar puncture to assess CNS involvement, and (b) serial specific serum IgG and IgM determinations had ruled out congenital infection. According to neonatal chart reviews, 30 consecutive patients without CNS infection were classified as normal (absolutely asymptomatic) or symptomatic (any kind of symptoms).

Results: CSF WBC count was higher in 11 symptomatic (7/mm3, 0–30/mm3) than in 19 normal (1/mm3, 0–5/mm3) neonates (p<0.01).

Conclusion: Normal neonatal CSF contains up to 5 WBCs/mm3. Mild pleocytosis can be found in symptomatic infants without CNS infection.

  • CNS, central nervous system
  • CSF, cerebrospinal fluid
  • WBC, white blood cell
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • leucocytes
  • reference values
  • infection

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