What Is a Normal MCV in Children
Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is an indicator of anemia and other blood disorders. Learn about normal ranges for children according to age group

Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is a measurement of the average size of red blood cells (RBCs). MCV is part of complete blood count—a routine screening test that analyzes the other two blood components, white blood cells and platelets.

MCV is an indicator of reduced red blood cell circulation in the body, as seen in anemia and vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies.

Normal MCV in adults ranges from 80-100 fL. Normal pediatric ranges are shown in the table below.

Table: Normal MCV ranges for children by age group
Age MCV range (in fL)
0 to 1 month 88 to 123
1 to 3 months 91 to 112
3 to 6 months 74 to 108
6 months to 1 year 70 to 85
2 to 3 years 74 to 89
4 to 6 years 77 to 91
7 to 10 years 78 to 92
11 to 14 years 80 to 95
15 to 18 years 81 to 96

What is MCV used for?

MCV test is used to distinguish different types of anemia and as a prognostic tool for other health conditions. RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to each cell of the body, which is essential for them to grow and reproduce. When the size of RBCs changes and becomes either too small or too large, it is indicative of blood disorders.

Your doctor may prescribe the mean corpuscular volume test as part of regular checkups or if you may be exhibiting any of these symptoms:

How is MCV calculated?

MCV can be calculated from hematocrit (Hct) and RBC count by using the following formula:

MCV (in fL) = (Hct [in L/L]/RBC [in ×1012/L]) × 1,000

MCV for different types of anemia are follows:

  • Microcytic anemia: MCV below 80 fL
  • Normocytic anemia: MCV between 80-100 fL
  • Macrocytic anemia: MCV over 100 fL

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What does low MCV in a child mean?

Low MCV is indicative of a smaller-than-average size of RBCs, which could be due to:

What does high MCV in a child mean?

High MCV is indicative of a larger-than-average size of RBCs, which could be due to:

  • Folate deficiency
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Liver disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Aplastic anemia (anemia due to bone marrow development failure)
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome (a group of disorders in which RBCs do not mature)
  • Chronic hypoxia (reduced amount of oxygen in the tissues)
  • Benign familial macrocytosis (an inherited syndrome that leads to RBCs that are larger than normal)
  • Leukemia

What causes anemia in children?

Causes of anemia in children vary depending on their age, gender, and ethnicity:

  • Birth to 3 months:
    • Physiological anemia, which is a normal developmental response to increased tissue oxygenation
    • Pathologic anemia, which may be due to other causes such as:
      • Blood loss
      • Hemolytic disease (Rh or ABO incompatibility)
      • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency
    • Congenital infections
    • Twin-twin transfusion
  • 3-6 months:
    • Hemoglobinopathy
  • Children and adolescents:
    • Cow milk intake
    • Menarche in female children

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Medically Reviewed on 1/11/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Pediatric Reference Ranges: https://www.healthcare.uiowa.edu/path_handbook/appendix/heme/pediatric_normals.html

Brittany Maner. Mean Corpuscular Volume. NIH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545275/

Choladda Curry. Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV). Medscape: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2085770-overview#a1