Leukocytes and erythrocytes in feces in a child and an adult

Leukocytes in the feces of a child or an adult indicate that the body’s defenses have been activated. They appear when there is something to fight, so their number is a marker informing us about the presence of an inflammatory process.

What is considered a deviation?

Almost any laboratory indicator has its own standards depending on age, including the data of scatology (feces analysis). In feces in adults, single leukocytes (1-2 in the field of view) are normally detected. If there are more white cells, then this is considered a sign of inflammation.

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Leukocytes in the coprogram in children, or rather their increased number, are not always associated with diseases, especially in very young children. The detection of leukocytes in the feces of an infant in the amount of 15 pieces in the field of view often causes panic in parents. However, in a newborn, this number is not a signal of poor digestion and is not considered a violation in the normal condition of the child and weight gain.

Stool analysis for prophylaxis is taken three times before the child celebrates his first birthday. The dates were not chosen by chance. It is necessary to control the process of digestion during breastfeeding, therefore, the first time feces are carried to the laboratory during the first month of life. The second trip is planned after adaptation to the introduction of complementary foods (at the age of 5 or 6 months), and the third time – after the preparation of the stool (at 1 year).

The norm of leukocytes in feces in infants is 10-12 in the field of view. For children on artificial nutrition, the number of white cells is on average 10. From 2 years old, less and less white cells should be determined (norm 8-10).

Leukocytes in baby feces are not always associated with inflammation. The reasons may be:

  • an imperfect digestive system (lack of enzymes),
  • a breastfed baby always has more white cells compared to “artificial” ones,
  • allergies to foods that mom ate (chocolate, strawberries, smoked foods, eggs).

Possible diseases

10559 img 5 - 11Leukocytes or white blood cells are our warriors, protectors from any harmful foreign substances. Like different parts of military structures, they also have their own characteristics. Ordinary soldiers on the first line are neutrophils. The duties of the cleaners are performed by lymphocytes and monocytes. They are also actively involved in restoring the integrity of damaged tissues. Elimination of allergies is the responsibility of eosinophils.

The process of inflammation promotes the transition of these cells from the blood vessels to the places of accumulation of foreign substances in order to neutralize them. Together with leukocytes, erythrocytes can also leave the blood.

Leukocytes in feces in an infant are elevated under the following conditions:

  • intestinal infections of viral (rotavirus) or bacterial (dysentery) origin,
  • intoxication of the body,
  • dysbiosis,
  • constipation and colic in the abdomen,
  • enteritis and colitis (inflammatory, ulcerative, allergic),
  • unbalanced diet,
  • inflammation of the rectum (proctitis).

With enteritis, severe diarrhea develops, which is dangerous in that it can lead to dehydration, because fluid and electrolytes are lost along with feces.

It speaks in favor of a bacterial infection if there are many neutrophils in the feces. If eosinophilic leukocytes increase, then check if the child has worms or food allergies (allergic colitis). Mucus and leukocytes, found in large quantities in the feces of an infant, may indicate follicular enteritis (mucus is secreted in the form of lumps). The same factors can cause the appearance of leukocytes in feces in an adult.

Unlike infants, green bowel movements in children over the age of 3 and adults are considered a serious disorder. This color is typical for pus – i.e. accumulations of dead red blood cells.

Leukocytes in feces in infants are not considered the norm if the coprogram also revealed other disorders, for example, muscle fibers and fatty acids. This means that the digestion process is disturbed and insufficiently digested food is excreted in the stool. In these cases, it is necessary to exclude problems with the stomach or pancreas, especially if the child does not want to breastfeed, cries and cannot sleep well, and the parents have stopped noticing the weight gain. Occasionally, leukocytes can enter the stool accidentally, for example, if the collection container has not been sterilized or the cells have come from the vagina or urethra.

Stool Analysis Data

The reaction to leukocytes and erythrocytes can be weakly positive (there are few cells) and positive (there are many cells). And how many leukocytes in feces are usually determined by eye under a microscope, so sometimes in the analysis of feces you can find indications that leukocytes are densely located or surrounded by mucus, and sometimes they can fill the entire field of vision. In the laboratory, this is called “across the grid.”

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Microscopic examination also assesses the state of leukocytes. The less they are changed, i.e. the more they look like blood leukocytes, the closer to the anus is the place from where
they got into the feces. Most often, such leukocytes are detected with inflammation of the rectum. If an adult or an infant has leukocytes in the feces that “do not look like themselves, then this means that they have been exposed to digestive enzymes, which means that the source is in the small intestine. Moderately altered white cells probably came from the small intestine.

If you come across an unfamiliar phrase “leukocyte detritus” in the decoding, and even with a number of plus signs next to it, it means that dead leukocytes were found in the feces, which died in the fight against infection. Elevated leukocytes in stool and little mucus are considered pus.

Coprology allows you to compare the increase in the number of leukocytes in the feces with other parameters and establish the most likely diagnosis.

r111 - 15With inflammation of the rectum, the analysis of feces in infants shows the presence of red blood cells in the mucus. They get into the feces and with constipation, due to small tears of the intestine when it is stretched. This is considered microbleeding, i.e. implicit blood loss, invisible to the eye. Normally, red blood cells in the feces should be absent. They can also be caused by ulcerative colitis or bleeding from the stomach and esophagus.

If the child is feeling good, but you are still worried, you can detect red blood cells and leukocytes in the baby’s feces at home. This is helped by express strips that are offered by pharmacies. It is necessary to dilute feces physical solution to form an emulsion. After that, feces are applied to a special reagent field on the strip and the color changes are expected. Find the resulting color on the scale. This test also detects other substances in the stool, for example, bilirubin, protein, determine the pH of the stool, etc.

Diet for reliable analysis

To ensure that the analysis does not give false results, it is recommended to follow a diet for 1-2 days before passing. It is advisable to eat the following foods:

  • butter, milk,
  • buckwheat or rice porridge, oatmeal (always in milk),
  • potatoes,
  • eggs,
  • meat (lean),
  • sauerkraut,
  • apples,
  • bread (black or white).


Leukocytes in feces are a symptom. It is necessary to direct all efforts to find out the reasons for the increase in their number. Treatment depends on the specific disorder. If the reason is allergy, you need to exclude all allergenic foods (sweets, chocolates, strawberries) from the diet and take antihistamines. For intestinal infections, antibiotic therapy is required under the supervision of a pediatrician. If there are no health problems, then just adjust your diet and avoid stress.

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Tatyana Jakowenko

Editor-in-chief of the Detonic online magazine, cardiologist Yakovenko-Plahotnaya Tatyana. Author of more than 950 scientific articles, including in foreign medical journals. He has been working as a cardiologist in a clinical hospital for over 12 years. He owns modern methods of diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and implements them in his professional activities. For example, it uses methods of resuscitation of the heart, decoding of ECG, functional tests, cyclic ergometry and knows echocardiography very well.

For 10 years, she has been an active participant in numerous medical symposia and workshops for doctors - families, therapists and cardiologists. He has many publications on a healthy lifestyle, diagnosis and treatment of heart and vascular diseases.

He regularly monitors new publications of European and American cardiology journals, writes scientific articles, prepares reports at scientific conferences and participates in European cardiology congresses.