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Calcium Test

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KEY POINTS

  • This test measures the amount of calcium in your child’s blood. Your child’s nerves, muscles, bones, and teeth need calcium to be healthy and strong.
  • This test may check certain medical conditions as a part of a larger picture that includes your child’s medical history, physical exam, and current health. It can also check how well treatment is working.
  • Make sure your child follows your healthcare provider’s instructions about eating, drinking, and exercising before the test.

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What is the calcium test?

This test measures the amount of calcium in your child’s blood. Your child’s nerves and muscles, including your child’s heart, need calcium to work well. Calcium is also important for healthy bones and teeth.

Your child gets calcium when your child eats or drinks dairy products and eats some vegetables (such as broccoli) and calcium-fortified food.

Most of the calcium in your child’s body is in the bones. The blood calcium test measures only the small amount of calcium in your child’s blood. This test does not measure the amount of calcium in your child’s bones.

Why is this test done?

This test may help diagnose and treat a medical problem your child is having. It does not diagnose a specific problem, but it can help your child’s healthcare provider know what other tests your child might need. It is also a way to see how well treatment for a disease is working.

This test may be done to look for or check certain medical conditions, such as:

  • Bone or teeth disorders
  • Gland (hormone) problems
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Certain cancers
  • Irregular heartbeat

Your child may have this test because he or she has symptoms of low calcium (hypocalcemia), such as muscle spasm, cramping, and twitching. Your child may also have this test because he or she has symptoms of high calcium (hypercalcemia), such as tiredness, being very thirsty, urinating more than usual, muscle weakness, or bone pain.

How do I prepare my child for this test?

  • Your child may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Make sure your child’s healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that your child is taking. Ask your child’s provider before stopping any of your child’s regular medicines.
  • Talk to your child’s healthcare provider if you have any questions about the test.

How is the test done?

Having this test will take just a few minutes. For young babies, the heel is pricked and a small amount of the blood is taken. For older children, a small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your child’s test.

What does the test result mean?

Some of the reasons your child’s calcium level may be higher than normal are:

  • Your child has taken a lot of vitamins A and D (Your child’s body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium from the food your child eats.)
  • Your child takes certain medicines, such as some diuretics (water pills)
  • Your child has been on bed rest for a long time
  • Your child has a problem with the thyroid or parathyroid gland
  • Your child has kidney disease
  • Your child has cancer

Many other medical conditions can cause a high level of calcium.

Some of the reasons your child’s calcium level may be lower than normal are:

  • Your child’s body needs more vitamin D or the mineral magnesium
  • Your child doesn't get enough calcium from his diet
  • Your child has a problem with the thyroid or parathyroid gland
  • Your child’s intestines are not absorbing calcium
  • Your child has kidney, pancreas, or liver disease
  • Your baby is premature

Your child’s body will take calcium from the bones if the calcium level in your child’s blood is low. Children with low calcium levels need treatment to prevent bone loss.

What if my child’s test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history, physical exam, and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about the results and ask questions, such as:

  • If your child needs more tests
  • What kind of treatment your child might need
  • What lifestyle, diet, or other changes your child might need to make
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2016.4 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2015-07-22
Last reviewed: 2015-07-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright © 2016 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.
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