When Lab Testing Might Be Right for Your Child

centrifuge machine blood bank

Without symptoms, most children usually don’t need lab testing. However, when issues arise, lab testing can save precious time by confirming a diagnosis or evaluating a treatment plan so your child can get proper care as quickly as possible. 

While lab testing can play a significant role in helping your child stay healthy, getting an appropriate sample from a child can be challenging. When lab testing is warranted, pediatrician Andrew Satran, MD, and our staff at Advanced Pediatrics of Rockland in Pomona, New York, have the experience necessary to get the samples they need as efficiently as possible. 

In-office lab testing allows you to get the answers you need without the stress of taking your child to an inconvenient and strange environment. By having lab testing done as part of your office visit, you can save time and money in getting an accurate diagnosis with minimal stress to your child. 

In this blog, Dr. Satran discusses the types of tests that are commonly performed and when they may be recommended. 

Complete blood count (CBC)

A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood draw that is used to measure the levels of three different types of cells in your child’s blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. 

Red blood cells deliver oxygen to different parts of your child’s body. A red blood cell count may be ordered if your child has unexplained fatigue, headaches, or signs of infection. Abnormal red blood cell counts indicate diseases such as anemia, thyroid or kidney problems, sickle cell disease, and some cancers.

White blood cells help protect your body from infection and foreign substances. A test of white blood cells can help identify the source of fever, chills, body aches, and pain. Abnormal white blood cell levels may be linked to leukemia, allergic reactions, infections, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and conditions affecting the liver or spleen. 

Platelets contribute to blood clotting. Measuring your child’s platelet count may be recommended if they have unexplained or easy bruising, excessive nosebleeds, blood in their stools, or signs of bleeding under their skin. Abnormal platelet counts may indicate the presence of bone marrow disease or a bleeding or clotting disorder.

Other blood tests

While a CBC can provide a wide range of valuable information, it may not offer all the details necessary for an accurate diagnosis. We may draw additional blood for more precise lab tests. 

Depending on your child’s symptoms, they may need one or more of the following blood tests that screen for specific conditions:

  • Blood sugar test to identify type-1 or type-2 diabetes
  • Blood test for allergies to identify the nature of an allergy 
  • Metabolic panel to evaluate levels of chemicals, enzymes, and electrolytes that may be associated with liver or kidney disease
  • Hemoglobin test to evaluate red blood cell levels for anemia
  • Blood test for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases 
  • Tuberculosis blood test to identify an active tuberculosis infection
  • Blood test for heavy metal poisoning 
  • Pediatric lipid profile blood test to screen for high cholesterol 

Urinalysis

Urinalysis detects and tests the levels of protein and other substances in your child’s urine that are associated with well-being. If your child is toilet-trained, they will urinate into a clean container. If your child is too young to urinate on demand, a urine collection bag or a small catheter inserted into the bladder may be used to collect a sample. 

Urinalysis may be recommended if your child has signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney disease. Symptoms may include painful or frequent urination, abdominal or back pain, or blood in their urine. The test may also be routinely performed as part of your child’s annual wellness check.

Throat culture

A throat culture uses a throat swab to collect cells from the back of your child’s throat. It is performed to identify the presence of group A streptococcus bacteria, which causes strep throat. Scarlet fever, pneumonia, and abscesses can also be identified with a throat culture.

Signs of strep throat can include pain when swallowing, white or yellow spots on the throat or tonsils, and swollen lymph nodes on the sides of your child’s neck. A rapid strep test can provide results within 10 to 20 minutes. If the rapid test is negative, a culture may be sent to a lab for a more precise evaluation.

Nasal culture

A nasal culture uses a swab to collect cells from your child’s nostrils or nasopharynx, the uppermost section of their throat and nose. It is used to test for respiratory infections. 

A nasal culture may be recommended for symptoms that include a chronic cough, runny nose, or chest congestion. A sample from a nasal culture can identify the presence of infections such as the flu, COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, meningitis, and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). 

Find out more about the ways we use lab tests to help your child get the treatment they need without delay. To schedule, request an appointment online or call our office. 

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