Why Blood Tests Are Important for Children: Top Tests Explained
Top 16 Blood Tests for Kids
Blood tests are diagnostic tools that help pediatricians assess your child’s health. These tests are typically performed through a simple blood draw from a vein or a finger prick, depending on the age of your child and the specific test needed. Pediatric blood tests are safe and relatively quick, and the information they provide is essential! Read more to learn about the most common blood tests for children.
#1: CBC WITH DIFF
A complete blood count with differential, or a CBC with diff, measures and counts blood cells. This test evaluates the different components of blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and the levels of hemoglobin and hematocrit. It also counts five specific types of white blood cells. This test can help diagnose anemia, infections, inflammation, bleeding disorders, and certain systemic conditions.
#2: COMP METAB PANEL
A comprehensive metabolic panel, also known as CMP, measures various chemicals and substances in the blood. The CMP includes tests for blood glucose levels, electrolyte balance, kidney function markers, liver enzymes, and proteins. It also assesses the levels of calcium and other important elements in the blood. This test is useful for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes, liver and kidney diseases, electrolyte imbalances, and metabolic disorders.
#3: LIPID PANEL
A lipid panel measures cholesterol levels and other lipid components in the blood. This panel typically measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein), HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein), and triglycerides. Elevated LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with low HDL cholesterol, can increase the risk of developing heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. The results of a lipid panel help monitor cardiovascular health and determine appropriate interventions.
#4: HEMOGLOBIN A1c W/eAG
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) with estimated Average Glucose (eAG) assesses average blood sugar levels over a two-to-three-month period. HbA1c levels provide valuable information about how well blood sugar has been controlled over time. Higher HbA1c levels indicate poorer glucose control and an increased risk of diabetes-related complications. The eAG is an additional value calculated from the HbA1c result, providing an estimated average of glucose levels over the same period. This test is important in monitoring and managing diabetes.
#5: THYROID STIM HORMONE
The thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test evaluates the function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism, energy levels, and other bodily functions. TSH stimulates the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones. An abnormal TSH level may suggest an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), where the thyroid is not producing enough hormones, or an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), where the thyroid is producing too many hormones.
#6: TSH WITH FT4 REFLEX
TSH with FT4 reflex assesses thyroid function in a more comprehensive manner. The test measures the levels of both thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (FT4) in the blood. FT4 is a form of thyroid hormone circulating freely in the bloodstream. The “reflex” part of the test means that when the TSH results fall outside the normal range, the test automatically measures the FT4 level. An abnormal TSH level often indicates a thyroid issue and measuring FT4 provides further insights into the actual thyroid hormone levels in the blood.
#7: VITAMIN D, 25-OH
The Vitamin D, 25-OH test, also known as the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, measures the major circulating form of Vitamin D in the blood. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones, teeth, and overall immune system function. This test is important for assessing Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency, which can lead to health issues including weak bones (osteoporosis), muscle weakness, and an increased risk of infections.
The ferritin test measures the levels of ferritin in the body. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron, an essential mineral required for the production of red blood cells and oxygen transportation. Low ferritin levels can indicate iron deficiency anemia, a condition where the body lacks enough iron to produce sufficient red blood cells. High ferritin levels may indicate iron overload or certain medical conditions like hemochromatosis, where the body absorbs and stores too much iron.
#9: T4, FREE
The Free T4 test measures the levels of free thyroxine (T4) in the bloodstream. T4 is one of the two main hormones produced by the thyroid gland and plays a vital role in regulating metabolism, energy levels, and other bodily functions. Monitoring Free T4 levels is crucial for assessing thyroid function and diagnosing thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).
#10: SED RATE
The sedimentation rate (SED RATE) test is a simple but valuable blood test that measures how quickly red blood cells settle in a tube of blood. It is a non-specific marker of inflammation in the body. When there is inflammation, such as from infections, autoimmune disorders, or certain types of arthritis, proteins in the blood increase, causing red blood cells to clump together and settle faster. This test can help doctors monitor and diagnose conditions associated with inflammation.
#11: CBC NO DIFF
The complete blood count without differential (CBC without Diff) measures the total counts of blood components. It includes hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cell, white blood cell, and platelet counts. This test can help detect anemia, infections, and blood disorders, as well as monitor these conditions and the response to treatments.
Lead testing for pediatric patients is a crucial preventive measure that helps safeguard their health and development. Lead is a toxic metal that can be found in many sources, including old paint, soil, water pipes, and certain consumer products. Lead poisoning can cause severe health issues, affecting the nervous system, brain development, and overall cognitive abilities. Pediatricians often recommend lead testing for young children, especially those living in older homes or areas with a history of lead contamination.
The CRP (C-reactive protein) test measures the levels of C-reactive protein in the bloodstream. CRP is a marker of inflammation. This test helps doctors identify the presence and extent of inflammation, which can be caused by infections, injuries, autoimmune disorders, or other underlying health issues. Elevated CRP levels are also associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
The Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) test measures the level of ALT in the bloodstream, which can serve as an early warning sign of liver problems. When liver cells are damaged or inflamed, ALT is released into the bloodstream. The ALT test is commonly used to diagnose liver diseases, such as hepatitis and fatty liver disease, and to monitor the progress and effectiveness of treatments for these conditions.
#15: TIBC PROFILE
The total iron binding capacity (TIBC) profile analyzes iron levels and iron-binding capacity in the body. This test measures the ability of a protein called transferrin to bind with iron in the blood. It assesses both the iron that is already bound to transferrin and the iron that is actively bound and transporting in the bloodstream. The TIBC profile is used to diagnose and monitor conditions related to iron metabolism, such as iron deficiency anemia and hemochromatosis.
Although skin testing is the best way to diagnose allergies, this type of test is sometimes unsuitable for young children. Blood tests for allergies can be useful in diagnosing different types of allergic reactions, especially for young children with gastrointestinal or dermatological symptoms.
While the idea of a pediatric blood test might be intimidating, our phlebotomists take steps to make the process as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Our pediatric locations ensure that children receive necessary medical care in a supportive and reassuring environment. Check out our locations page to find a pediatric location near you!